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Home > Technology Previews > General Computing

Friday, March 17, 2006
CeBIT 2006

2. NEC

Revelations on the HD DVD Technology by NEC

CDRinfo was invited to a meeting with Product Manager Ralf Dajek and Chief Engineer Ryoichi Hayatsu at NEC's booth at CeBIT where they kindly responded to inquiries that would interest both professionals and end users regarding the HD DVD format.

Our two CDRinfo reporters attended a private demonstration of an HD DVD burning session using the HD-1100 model (on display above), a recently developed optical disc burner that can write to HD-DVD discs. The NEC HD-1100 is the first HD DVD-/DVD-/CD burner for PCs, expected to be released on the market at Christmas. NEC is aiming for a price tag of around €499, although it may be difficult to initially keep the price this low. The media used was single-sided, capable of storing up to 15GB of data. The drive is also compatible with dual-layer discs (30GB).

NEC was shooting a high-definition video each morning at the show and burning it onto a disc, for demonstration purposes.

Above, Mr Ryoichi Hayatsu, NEC Chief Engineer exclusively filmed a short video of our two journalists and burned the high-definition content on a high-definition Verbatim (MKM) disc in the HD DVD format.

The burning software used by NEC, is a special version of Cyberlink Power2Go 5.

At the demonstration, the blank media was burned at 1X (4.5 MByte/s), but NEC announced that the final version of this drive will deliver 2X burning speed. The blank media, which only became available days before Cebit began, is single-sided disc (15GB capacity), from MKM Verbatim.

The four media companies that are currently collaborating with NEC to produce media, are MKM/Verbatim, Ricoh, Maxell and Taiyo Yuden.

As we can see above, the recorded MPEG-2 video file was encoded at 25.10Mbps, a bit rate high enough to be considered as "High Definition".

NEC is also working on support for rewritable HD-DVD media although the standardization for HD DVD Rewritable (HD DVD-RE) has yet to be completed. This is expected to be finalized in May or June this year. Issues such as region and copy restrictions have also not been finalised. Mr Hayatsu expressed the opinion that the best solution would be to have no region restrictions (i.e. Region Free), but if this was not feasible, then to impose a region restriction scheme the same as that currently in place with DVD movies, basically to make it easier for users. As for AACS support, currently the drive is 0.9 compliant but since this does not address the issue of backups/copying, it would be up to content providers to implement their own backup policies until a full protection implementation is finalised for both the European and USA regions.

NEC also showcased their HD DVD ROM drives at its booth.

In the picture above you can see the HR-2100 HD DVD combo reader. It delivers all functions of a DVD Multi Model and HD DVD-ROM Model this is why it is called a "Combo Model".

The NEC HR-1100A DVD seen in the picture above, plays HD-DVDs as well as DVDs and CDs. HD DVD media is read at 2x speed. DVD minus and DVD plus media can be read at up to 8x DVD speed, as well as rewritable and dual-layer DVDs. It can also read DVD-RAM at 5x speed. The HR-1100 should be available at the end of March for OEM offers, who can integrate it in complete PC Systems, says NEC. The company does not have any plans to sell the drive using its own retail package for now.

The agreement between NEC and Sony for their optical storage joint venture should be finalized on April 3rd. When questionned by CDRinfo on the possibility of whether NEC will produce a combo device (i.e. HD DVD and Blu-ray), Mr Hayatsu said that this was not feasible at the moment as the price would be too high. Once costs come down (especially for the blue laser diode, when failure ratio in production drops) a drive at a competitive price could eventually offered. In the meantime, Sony will keep producing its BD products and NEC its HD DVD. With current DVD devices, Production, Lite-On will still be used to keep up capacity. Sony will produce optical pickup. HD DVD will probably be quicker to market.

NEC is still waiting for the major film studios to provide them with their last requirements. The first HD DVD films will be released in the U.S without any regional coding and that would be more convenient for NEC if the same situation would apply for Europe also. According to Mr. Hayatsu, the best option for consumers would be region free HD DVD media and it would also accomodate their company, but that is unlikely since Hollywood prefers regional coding to better control the copyright and the market and avoids pirating losses.

The second best option for NEC, would be to keep the current system, adds Mr. Darek. Another major issue is the broadcasting networks which is yet to be finalized.

Mr. Hayatsu disclosed that even though the AACS copy protection agreement has not been finalized, some key points have been defined which permit the production and launch of the first HD DVD technology on the market. Consumers won't have to change their products if they purchased them earlier even once the AACS agreement is finalized, revealed Mr. Hayatsu.

Both NEC executives believe in the effectiveness of the upcoming AACS copy protection scheme. They believe it will be more reliable then the previous DVD CCS protection. Mr. Hayatsu explained that because of the fact that this new system has 1000 keys if they uncover a problem with one of the keys they will have the ability to block this particular one.

 

 

 

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