No. Not here yet. Coming soon, however it might be coming in multiple standards!
Yep, as with DVD burners there are several contenders looking to corner the marketplace. Burners, of course, come in DVD-R, DVD+R and DVD-RAM formats and not all DVD players are compatible with some of these formats.
The initial bad news is, however, to view Hi-Def DVD you will need to get a new DVD player. One that has the proper new formats. The good news is that (more than likely) these new Hi-Def players will probably also play the existing DVD disks, so your old stash will still be viable, just not in pristine quality.
Last year we talked about D-VHS, the digital VHS recorders and players, putting forth the concept that the DVD faced possible extinction. Well, now, it seems, there is a reprieve for those little disks!
Current DVD technology uses MPEG 2 (or, if you will MP2) format. MPEG 2 has been around for a long while and it is what they use for web cast quality videos. Itís a very close format to the JPG pictures you see on the internet or get on Kodak picture disks.
MP2 compression allows for a 480 x 480 pixel image, which is twice as good as ordinary VHS tapes, hence the DVDs you buy or rent at Blockbuster look better than if you got them on tape.
Ordinary television uses a 640 x 480 picture and the slightly smaller MP2 image can be spread across the screen without lowering the picture quality too much. Hi-Def, however, uses a 1920 x 1080 pixel format that is many times larger than the MP2 compression system. Thus, the need for a new compression format and there are two proposed. One is the long existing MPEG 4 AS (MP4) format. The other comes from Microsoft and it is known as VC-1, which is probably very compatible with the Microsoft Media Player that already comes in your computer. The problem here, for Microsoft, is that their format must also compete in the non-computer world where Microsoft has little presence. The big hardware makers have all decided to support the MP2, MP4 and VC-1 standards.
By next year we will probably start to see HD-DVD. If the hardware makers are smart theyíll include a button that lets normal home TV sets shrink the picture so that you, the user, can by an HD-DVD and view it on a standard TV set. If that happens then the software makers may totally drop standard DVD disks (the older MP2 format) and only produce HD-DVD, probably by 2006. That will force people with old DVD players to buy new hardware. It will also probably force the price of a DVD disk up from the current $20 to maybe $25, with the discounted price just under $20.
At this point in time we can only speculate as to what will happen with both hardware and software. If history replays, you will probably see some HD-DVD players that may not support the Microsoft format or have problems playing all disks. That is par for the course. Currently some DVD players canít view home grown disks or the CD-Video disks. Currently some older players have problems with newer DVD disks. We also see this with music CD players that canít always see a CD-R or CD-RW disk you burn at home.
So, the next media revolution is on the horizon: HD-DVD and you can expect it to be a mess for a few years!
Camcorders 2004 | Capture Cards 2004 | HD-DVD
From our archives we have these articles from the 2002 Issues: