Anyone watching football recently probably noticed the number of ads for the latest, biggest high-definition TVs. High-definition has become America’s newest technology obsession. Not long ago, people were impressed with digital media like CDs and DVDs. Today, higher quality speakers and TV screens have the masses demanding higher quality audio and video.Two types of discs have emerged as high-definition contenders to replace DVD. One is called (logically enough) HD-DVD. The other is known as Blu-ray. Both of these disc formats are recently developed and currently in their early phases of release to the public. The specifications of both products may change.
Both types of discs have far greater storage capacity than a DVD, which is why many believe these new discs will replace DVDs. A DVD can store up to 4.7 gigabytes – enough for three straight days of MP3 audio, but only about 50 minutes of high quality video. HD-DVD will store 32 GB, and Blu-ray reportedly will be available in different size capacities from 25 GB to 100 GB. With this amount of storage capacity, the Blu-rays will hold about six to 18 hours of high-definition video.
These two disc formats have the ability to store much more than DVDs because they are read using blue-violet light, not the infrared light that reads CDs and DVDs. Blue light has a shorter wavelength, allowing more information to be packed onto a single disc. This blue light is the basis for Blu-ray’s name.
Naturally, neither of the two formats will be readable on each other’s disc readers (or any previous, such as CD or DVD players). Because of this, there is speculation about which disc will become the standard.
HD-DVD has an advantage because it has the more recognizable name. It is relatively similar to the older DVD format, which means switching over to the new format would be much cheaper than switching to Blu-ray.
On the other hand, Blu-ray is considered to be the better technology. It is capable of storing more data than the HD-DVD format. A number of key players throughout the technology industry support the Blu-ray, giving it another advantage over its competition. Several movie studios support the format and are expected to release their movies only in the Blu-ray. Sony is another important advocate. When the PlayStation 3 is shipped, every unit will contain a Blu-ray reader.
But users are best advised to not get too deeply invested in either technology in the meantime. DVDs are still a good format. Both Blu-ray and HD-DVD claim that their readers will be backwards compatible with DVD and CD formats. Consumers should not feel rushed to make a choice. Even seemingly good technologies can lose out in the end – just take a look at the stack of John Denver eight-tracks in my grandma’s attic.
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