HD DVD has a new format. Chinese
Beijing – The result of over two years of negotiations between the DVD Forum, the Chinese industry and the Beijing government, the HD DVD video format now has its official Chinese version: the temporary name is China High Definition DVD (CH-DVD), and is getting ready to board all high-definition optical drives manufactured and sold in China.
Developed in the Research Center for Optical Technologies of Tsinghua University, CH-DVD retains full compatibility with the format promoted by DVD Forum differing from the latter by the addition of the support for the AVS multimedia codec (Audio Video Standard) and a more sophisticated DRM mechanism.
AVS is an audio / video compression technology made in China which is an alternative to both the old MPEG-2 and the younger H.264 / AVC and VC-1 codecs at the base of HD DVD and Blu-ray. Thanks to AVS, whose technologies are almost entirely in the hands of Chinese companies and consortia, China expects to save over a billion dollars in royalties over the next 10 years.
The CH-DVD specification also includes support for MPEG-4 and Windows Media 9 codecs thus making players based on this format fully compatible with HD DVD movies: conversely, HD DVD players will not be able to play CH-DVD movies compressed in AVS.
It should be emphasized how China is now authorized to produce certified HD DVD players to be sold in the rest of the world: for Western consumers this is the most interesting consequence of the agreement between DVD Forum and China. When the Chinese industry will be able to produce HD DVD drives in full autonomy, analysts predict that the price of blue laser players will drop very quickly.
China High Definition DVD Industry Association (CHDA), the Chinese consortium promoting the CH-DVD format, provides that the launch of the first CH-DVD players will take place over the next year . In the meantime, most local content producers have already expressed their support for the new incarnation of HD DVD, and official support from US film majors, such as Warner and Universal, who support HD DVD is expected shortly.
Some speculate that it was the possible launch of CH-DVD that pushed Paramount last month to abandon Blu-ray to focus solely on HD DVD: the Chinese market for high-definition films has enormous growth potential, and HD DVD / CH-DVD supporters may have the opportunity to share the biggest piece of the pie .
Last week HD DVD was among the protagonists of the IFA, hi-tech fair held in Berlin where HD DVD Promotional Group announced new and upcoming discounts for the prices of HD DVD players: in Europe, in particular, entry-level units priced at 300-350 euros will soon be launched .
October will also be the month of the debut of a third high definition format, the HD VMD (Versatile Multilayer Disc), developed by New Medium Enterprises and ready to hit the market aboard player costing 179 euros ($ 199 in the US): a very competitive price, even when compared to that of cheaper HD DVD players.
The first generation HD VDM media will have the same capacity as single layer HD DVDs, equal to 30GB, and will support MPEG-2 and VA-1 codecs for video and Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS codecs for video. audio.
Despite the aggressive price, analysts are very skeptical about the chances of success of this new format : HD DVD and Blu-ray can in fact count on the support of the most influential names in the hardware and cinema industry, and the space for a “third wheel” appears very, very small.
More information on HD VDM and the European launch can be found in this recent official release.