Say goodbye to Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

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Jan 3, 2005
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Blu-ray and HD-DVD Join Forces
Sony and Toshiba to team up on a new, unified next-gen format. Where does PS3 fit in?
by Matt Casamassina

April 21, 2005 - According to a report by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the next-generation format war may be over before it ever starts. The Japanese newspaper on Thursday published with news that Sony and Toshiba are expected to make an announcement later this month that they have abandoned the Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats respectively and are working on a new medium that will bring together both standards.

Sony, a leading member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, announced last year that it would include a Blu-ray drive in its forthcoming next-generation console, PlayStation 3. More than 100 companies, including Apple, Panasonic, HP, and Pioneer, support Blu-ray, which promises up to 50 gigabytes of storage on a single disc side. Toshiba leads the opposing format, HD-DVD.

While it is commonly accepted that Blu-ray discs offer more storage space than HD-DVDs, electronics companies and Hollywood studios have remained divided over the two formats due in large to the manufacturing processes. In short, the DVD infrastructures already in place would serve HD-DVD manufacturers. However, costly new facilities and operations would need to be created in order to support the Blu-ray format.

Sony and Toshiba have remained in negotiations on the subject for weeks, with key company executives from each camp dropping hints that a unified standard would be optimal.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that, having reached an agreement that a new, unified standard would be the best thing for the industry, Sony and Toshiba are now in the process of designing the new standard, which seeks to take the strengths from each medium and combine them.

Sony has reportedly suggested using Blu-ray's disc structure and HD-DVD's software technology while Toshiba has suggested keeping HD-DVD's disc structure and applying Sony's multi-layer data-recording technology.

The Japanese paper reports that both companies are eager to reach an agreement in order to avoid the format wars that initially confused consumers and hindered both the VHS and DVD eras. The two electronics giants have already briefed major Hollywood studios including Disney and AOL Time Warner on the idea of a new, unified standard, according to the paper.

The big question is, what does this news mean for PlayStation 3, which is scheduled to release sometime next year? The very probable answer is that the next-generation machine will drop Sony's announced Blu-ray drive in favor of hardware that instead plays this new, still-announced format compromise.
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I saw a similar article in the L.A. Times. Does this mean that there may some intelligent life in big business in regards to us audiophiles. I, for one, am glad because I do not want to see another Beta-VHS war that was costly and really proved nothing in the long run except the ones with the deepest pockets won that battle and us consumers got screwed .

Just a comment

Jeff :eek:

If this is true there may be hope yet for a future multichannel HD format with lossless encoding :D
A few weeks ago the rumor mill was flowing with talk of Sony wanting to merge Blu-Ray with HD-DVD. I think it’s a grate Idea merging the two in to one standard, I think most consumers would not buy into a HD-DVD format until there is a winner and there can be no winner if no one buys. Just look at DVD-Audio and Super Audio, both are surviving but no one is really winning.

I think Sony made the right move by combining the two, Sony had the better hardware in my opinion, but with studios having to re-gear there production facilities to produce Blu-ray disks, consumers would not want to pay $10 to $20.00 more for Blu-Ray disks then HD-DVD. The typical consumer is a penny pincher not a Videophile and that would have killed Blue-ray.

I only hope Sony and Toshiba can agree on a new hardware standard. I hope this new stand is based more on Blu-Ray then HD-DVD format.

Take care
Joe :D
I think that part of this is recognition that whatever format wins out will be relatively short-lived compared to something like CD-Audio. Fighting a battle between differing formats will only make that worse. With the rapid adoption of broadband across the developed world, downloads of music and movies become much more viable as a distribution medium. This means that in a few years, physical retail media will become less important. People will use something similiar to the iTunes model to download and burn their own content. This saves on distribution, inventory, middle-man, and returns cost, so the distributors have a net gain in profitability.
More Info!

April 22, 2005
Multiple news sources today reported today that the two sides concurrently working to develop the next high resolution video disc are going to agree to work together on one format. The deal reportedly could be done as soon as next week thus uniting Sony and Matsushita (Blu-ray camp) with the HD-DVD camp.

Consumers and Hollywood alike will rejoice at the idea of avoiding yet another audio-video format war. The VHS versus Beta war is the most famous however the more recent SACD versus DVD-Audio format war left no winner standing at the end of the battle. Consumers simply don’t want to invest in a format that could up-up and away on them – leaving them with a poor investment in equipment and software.

Consumer demand for a new HDTV capable disc will be incredibly strong. HDTVs are selling according to Consumer Electronics Association numbers, at the rate of over 1,000,000 sets per month. Rumors in the retail world suggest the prices of “flat” TVs are due to dip again this summer making the market even bigger. Each person with an HDTV set quickly learns once it is installed and programmed, that there is only so much HDTV content available to them at any given time. An HDTV digital video recorder (DVR) is one solution consumers are using now to archive HDTV yet the idea of collecting movies (and someday music) on an ultra-high resolution format is going to be very tempting indeed.

Hollywood is also salivating at the idea of reselling their back catalog movies all over again. The cost to make a movie is paid up front and converting a movie from its archived master into a format that would go on an HD capable disc is pretty easy. The video is often archived on D5 tape and requires a downconversion to get it to 1080i or 720p – assuming those would be the format that the new format would use. Perhaps the new disc would go for the superior 1080p format? The audio mix for surround sound is already made for most movies released after 1990. All that is needed is some remixing for home audio systems as opposed to theatrical audio systems. In the case that the remix has already been done for a DVD release, it makes creating a new HD disc even easier.

All is not perfect however with HD discs even if both sides decide to work together. Hollywood hasn’t signed off on the copy protection schemes being used by either Blu-ray or HD-DVD. The major movie studios are rightfully concerned about piracy of such high resolution copies of their movies. Right now the bandwidth needed to store or send an HDTV movie over the Internet simply makes the process impractical but bandwidth will increase and hard drives will get bigger and cheaper. It is essential to all sides, including the computer companies who want so very badly to be in the movie business – that the powers that be get the copy protection right on this format. If they don’t within days of a new HDTV release, copies will be for sale on the streets of China for $2 a piece and with the treat of that malady – Hollywood will drag its feet.

While piracy is a scary possibility, the idea of the studios selling everyone all of their movies all over again will be more compelling considering the billions upon billions of dollars per year in sales this new format could bring the studios. Factor in the hardware manufacturers, the computer companies and every consumer with an HDTV who all want to see the project fly and you have the makings of the next big audio-video hit.
Well fellas I guess this means that we should not expect HD content on a disc this year. If Sony and Toshiba can come to a compromise I guess it would take at least a year to re-tool all of their technologies to the compromise media. Of course the whole compromise thing could still fall apart.

May 9, 2005 - Following recent announcements of a move towards compromise in the heated battle to become the next generation home video standard, the Tuesday morning Nihon Keizai Shimbun contains a first report on the shape that such a compromise will take. According to the paper, Sony and Toshiba have entered into final preparations for a format which combines disk technology from Sony with software technology from Toshiba. The two companies plan to offer an unified format to members of their respective high definition video forums as early as next week.

Toshiba's decision to give way on the disk format was apparently made after examining cost issues related to the Sony technology. The merged format will make use of Sony's 0.1 millimeter Blu-ray disk technology with Toshiba's software in place for reading and writing from the disk and handling copyright protection. Toshiba's 0.6 millimeter HD-DVD disk technology will be dropped. The resulting technology will be offered as a new format. It's unclear at this point if the new format will adopt the Blu-ray or the HD-DVD name, or if something completely new will be used.
Sony announced late last year that the next generation PlayStation would make use of the Blu-ray format. The Nihon Keizai article reveals that, as part of the compromise, Blu-ray supporters Sony and Matsushita were demanding the highest possible storage space for future IT and game applications. This would suggest that, even though Blu-ray as it was known is gone, the new merged standard will end up serving as the format for PS3.

Expect further announcements later this week or at E3.
There is hope afterall.

Doh!!! I've just realized that I'm going to have to spend $$$ on a new player, software AND a new projector to accept whatever the signal connection format will be....
DVI, HDMI..... :confused:
If this is true it is great news! I am sure that there will be a delay in getting this new format to market but it should be worth it especially since they has chosen the higher storage capacity of the Blu-Ray disk structure.

Now if they can only learn from the mistakes of previous hi-rez formats and give the world a well thought out method of presenting music to the masses using this new format. Since the situation is already confused with the availablity of so many hi-rez formats (SACD, DVD-A, Dual Disc, XRCD, HDCD) they need to hit a home run at first bat.
As an aside (sorry for the thread jacking...)

socialxray PLEASE tell me that Anime characters name. I've been trying to remember all morning.....

Something about Mars and a lot of Jazz music?
Just your friendly neighborhood bounty hunter, Spike Speigel (of Cowboy Bebop fame).

Looks like Toshiba is playing hard to get. This is from Home Theater:

Toshiba believes a single format for next generation DVD is most beneficial for consumers, and we are actively participating in talks towards format unification. At this point however, nothing has been decided, and absolutely no decision has been made for unification on any basis. The indication that a unification agreement on the basis of a 0.1mm disc system is imminent is unfounded and erroneous. Given this, Toshiba does not intend to make any proposal on unification to the members of the HD DVD Promotion Group.

Here is the link:
Cowboy Bebop that it!!!!! :D

Thanks socialxray.

Toshiba is just playing hardball right now but you know in the boardroom they are just as happy to have a unified format as everyone else.

May 19, 2005

CNN and Japanese newspapers are reporting that top executives from Toshiba and Sony are slated to meet this week to try to work on a compromise that would create one HDTV capable disc for consumers in the near future. Currently Sony has its Blu-ray technology and Toshiba has its HD-DVD format. Both have their supporters but critics worry that two formats could confuse or even anger consumers who all remember the old battle of VHS versus Beta. More recently and perhaps even more scary was the format war between high resolution audio formats SACD and DVD-Audio. That format war unlike the VHS versus Beta battle, left no winners – just two dead formats.

There is no question HDTV is the biggest thing to hit consumer electronics since the amazingly successful run of the DVD format. With over 1,000,000 consumers buying DTV sets every month and no signs of that number going down any time soon, there is a growing audience of HD content starved consumers who might just be willing to buy their movie collections all over again. If this bet is a winner and consumers start buying HDTV versions of their favorite movies this will be a boom the likes Hollywood and the consumer electronics industry have never seen.

Bigger hurdles still stand in the way of any such disc above and beyond Sony and Toshiba coming up with an agreement on an HD Disc format. Hollywood studios have to approve any copy protection scheme that would be on any new disc format and considering the quality of the video on any new HD disc – who can blame the studios for being worried. In the end there will be a few billion reason why Sony and Toshiba will team up and Hollywood will sign on. This format will be a home run with consumers who are dying for HD content.

With the intro of the PS3 at E3 I am starting to seriously doubt that the unification of HD formats will happen. Also, both companies have surely signed contracts with all sorts of hardware and software vendors. It take quite some time to create new hardware (and to a lesser extent software). Pulling out now, after these companies have spent money in R&D gearing up for the launch, would surely cause legal action. I know my company has put themselves behind Blu-Ray and I also know that if Sony pulled out, upper management would not be happy.

One thing I can say about Sony though, they never give up on a format they create. They support it to the dying end.
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There was an interesting article in the latest Sound & Vision magazine on the difference between HD-DVD and Blue-ray. If I read between the line from this article it appears an even though Blue-ray has great capacity it will be prown to more problems.
Just my take on the article.

Thursday, May 19, 2005- PC World

TDK Develops 100GB Blu-ray Disc

Prototype disc also can record data at twice the speed, company says.
TDK has developed a prototype Blu-ray Disc that can store twice as much data, and record it at twice the speed, as existing Blu-ray Discs.

The disc, unveiled at a TDK exhibition in Tokyo this week, can record data at 72 megabits per second, double the 36 mbps rate for current Blu-ray Discs. TDK increased the write speed by using a more powerful laser and making some changes to the material of the disc's recording layer, says Nobuyuki Koike, a spokesperson for TDK.

The first generation of Blu-ray discs can already record data faster than it is transmitted in high-definition TV broadcasts, so the faster recording speed isn't needed there. But it will be advantageous when content is copied from a hard drive to an optical disc for back-up or archiving, says Koike.

The Blu-ray Disc Association, which is responsible for the disc formats, standardized a 2X version of the read-only BD-R disc and rewritable BD-RE disc in the latter half of 2004, says Taro Takamine, a spokesperson for Sony in Tokyo. Sony is one of the major backers of the format.

Four Layers
To achieve the higher capacity, TDK added two additional recording layers to the disc to take it up to four layers. Blu-ray Disc stores 25GB on each recording layer and the standard currently includes single layer and dual layer versions.

No standard exists for four-layer discs and Koike says TDK is proposing its prototype to the Blu-ray Disc Association. Sony's Takamine says the current format road map calls for four-layer discs to debut in the market during 2007.

TDK's development comes hot on the heels of an announcement by Toshiba that it has developed a three-layer HD-DVD disc capable of holding up to 45GB of information. HD-DVD is a competing format to Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD's maximum capacity of 30GB had been viewed unfavorably against Blu-ray Disc's maximum 50GB capacity.

According to the Blu-ray Disc Association, a single-layer 25GB disc can typically hold 135 minutes of high-definition video in MPEG-2 format, with room for a further two hours of standard-definition video.

The recent Toshiba announcement brought the formats much closer together and made capacity less of an issue for the Blu-ray Disc camp to trumpet when promoting their technology. The development of a 100GB disc by TDK will likely open up this avenue for the Blu-ray Disc supporters again.
Monday 6 June 2005

Reuters is reporting more news about the battle for next generation HD-DVD and Blu Ray standard. "Toshiba plans on letting the market decide which format, Blu-Ray or HD DVD, will prevail at retailers.

"Toshiba said on Thursday competing technology standards for the next-generation optical discs will eventually be unified even thought products based on the two different formats may co-exist for a limited time.
"We may actually have a situation where merchandise from both sides are put on store shelves. But the market would not allow that situation to last very long," Toshiba President Tadashi Okamura said in a gathering of Japanese business leaders. "

The two sides have been in talks in a last ditch effort to forge a common format, but no substantial progress has been made so far.

Both sides believe that reaching a unified format would be ideal to avoid confusion and inconvenience created by a VHS-Beta battle two decades ago.

But the clock is ticking away with Toshiba launching HD DVD-based players by the end of 2005 and Sony introducing its new PlayStation game console in spring 2006 equipped with a Blu-ray disc drive." Source REUTER'S Tokyo
I was so hopeful for a unified format but alas it may just be wishful thinking... Blue Ray vs HD-DVD again :mad: