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Wednesday, January 18, 2006
HD DVD Progress Update

At the recent 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a number of significant HD DVD announcements were made by many HD DVD member companies, as well as the HD DVD Promotion group itself. Let's sum up the latest developments as they were announced.

Toshiba announced two different HD DVD Player models, including the HD XA1 to retail for only US$799 in the USA, and the HD A1 set to retail for only US$499. Both models will be available in Japan and the USA in March of 2006.

Thomson Consumer Electronics also announced that thye will be delivering a new player, to retail for US$500, though specific delivery information was not released.

NEC Corporation will release half height HD DVD drives for desktop PCs this spring. The first generation drives will be HD DVD ROM drives, but will be capable of recording most DVD and CD recordable and rewriteable formats.

TSST (Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology) announced 12.5 mm and 9.5 mm slim drives for use in Notebook and ultra light notebook PCs to be available this spring.

Warner Home Video, HBO, New Line, Paramount and Universal together announced a slate of 40 different titles to be available at launch, with more than 150 titles to be available for the 2006 fall sales season.

Studio Canal, the major distributor of content for both the Home Video and Theatrical markets in Europe, and the Weinstien company, the current venture from the Weinstien brothers, the former owners of Miramax, also announced support for HD DVD.

Microsoft also announced it will offer a new Xbox 360 external HD DVD drive in 2006. The new drive will offer millions of Xbox 360 owners the ability to easily enjoy HD DVD movies, adding more high definition choices to the popular gaming and entertainment system.

HD DVD Media

As it is widely known, the HD DVD and DVD share the same basic disc structure. Two 0.6 mm substrates are bonded together to form a 1.2 mm total disc thickness. This commonality with DVD means that the very same equipment used today to manufacture DVDs can be used after only modest upgrades to manufacture HD DVD as well.

A wide variety of disc options exist for HD DVD, and they closely mirror the options you are familiar with for DVD.

HD DVD ROM discs will be available in three capacities:

- HD DVD 15 is a single layer disc offering 15 GB total data capacity.
- HD DVD 30 is a dual layer disc offering 30 GB total data capacity.

Both of these disc formats have been completely approved by the DVD forum.

In addition, the HD DVD 45 is a three layer disc offering 45 GB total capacity. This disc is currently being evaluated by the DVD Forum Technical Coordination committee, and is expected to be approved by the DVD forum before actual product launch in March of 2006.

When this disc is used in combination with the newer more efficient Video compression methods approved for HD DVD including h.264 (A form of MPEG 4) and VC1 (An open standard version of Microsoft's Windows Media Video Technology) the total duration of HD video that may recorded is approximately 4 hours for 15 GB, 8 hours for 30 GB, and 12 hours for 45 GB.

In addition to these ROM discs, there will be several types of write once and re-recordable discs:

- HD DVD-R 15 is a single layer write once disc at 15 GB total capacity
- HD DVD-R 30 is a dual layer write once disc at 30 GB total capacity

- HD DVD-RW 15 is a re-writeable disc at 15 GB capacity
- HD DVD-RW 30 is a re-writeable disc at 30 GB capacity

Nore that the HD DVD-RW format has not been determined yet.

An additional re-writeable option is HD DVD-RAM, with a single layer at 20 GB total capacity (5.5 hours). The extra storage is possible because HD DVD-RAM uses a "land and groove" recording method, rather than a "groove only" recording method as in the RW versions.

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