Four major film studios -- Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, New Line Cinema, and Warner Brothers Studios -- will support the next generation high-definition DVD disc format: HD DVD.
HD DVD is the new high definition DVD disc standard being developed at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies. HD DVD advances include higher resolution video and audio available on a suite of disc capacities adaptable for longer or shorter programs -- along with better navigation, web connectivity, and new consumer options. HD DVD supports such essential features as superior content access and robust content security technology, which are critical to the studios. A single, dual-layer HD DVD ROM disc, which has a 30-gigabyte capacity, can hold as much as eight hours of high-quality, high definition movie content. HD DVD is based on the same physical disc structure as DVD, which secures easy backward compatibility with today's DVD, and enables manufacture of highly reliable hardware and discs at a reasonable cost.
Toshiba's President, Tadashi Okamura, explained that "HD DVD offers the necessary combination of picture quality, content security and advanced features, including interactivity, plus reasonable manufacturing costs. We believe this is why HD DVD is gaining broad acceptance and has won the support of each of these four leading studios."
The DVD Forum has been working on the details of the HD DVD specifications for almost two years, including physical, file format and application specifications for recordable and ROM discs. The DVD Forum approved the version 1 physical specifications for HD DVD-ROM in February 2004, followed by version 1 of the HD DVD-Rewritable format in September 2004. Completion of the HD DVD-R, a one-time recordable format, is also expected by year end. "Every facet of HD DVD development is on track," said Yoshihide Fujii of Toshiba. "As we enter the age of high-definition broadcasting, consumers increasingly want HD content for their high definition, large-screen displays, and HD DVD naturally fits in with this trend. HD DVD will open up new horizons in visual entertainment."
"With the emergence of a wide range of advanced digital devices, assurance of robust content protection is of primary importance to the sound development of both the hardware and software industries," said Mr. Fujii. "We intend to reinforce close collaboration and dialogue with other hardware manufacturers, content holders and software distributors to meet this objective." The HD DVD format will enable the most advanced content protection technology; AACS (Advanced Access Content System), currently being developed by major international CE, IT companies and Hollywood studios, is expected to be selected.
HD DVD players are expected to become available in late 2005 and widely available in 2006. Toshiba plans to launch its first HD DVD products, a CE player and recorder, in the fourth quarter of 2005. The company also plans to release notebook PC with a built-in HD DVD drive at the end of 2005.