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Say hello to CH-DVD and a 51GB HD DVD

Maneuvering in format wars reaches China.

Crave UK

It's all go in the HD DVD camp at the moment. Still on a high from the Paramount/Dreamworks deal, we're now hearing that HD DVD will soon have a 51GB, triple-layer disc on the way. The significance of a 51GB capacity is that it exceeds the current Blu-ray maximum by 1GB.

Obviously, 1GB is nothing more than a token increase, but it's an amusing nose-thumbing by Sony's opposition. Of course, the smile might be wiped from HD DVD's face if Sony announces a 100GB disc in the near future. There's also a DVD/HD DVD hybrid disc that has a 4.7GB DVD layer, and two 15GB HD DVD layers, something that could encourage DVD player owners to buy a hybrid disc for future upgrade purposes.

The good news is that the 51GB discs should play in all HD DVD players currently on the market. We discussed this with James Armour from Toshiba's optical storage division at CeBIT this year, and were told that although the third layer would be harder to read, and generate more data errors, the player's error correction should be able to fix these problems without picture and sound problems.

The other interesting news was that China has decided to introduce a low-cost HD disc format of its own. CH-DVD is similar in structure to HD DVD, but relies on Chinese technology to reduce the number of patent payments that need to be paid to owners. The plan is for the Chinese to introduce it next year, in time for the Olympics, of all things.

There are rumors that CH-DVDs will be encoded with MPEG-2, and might even be playable on HD DVD players. The format also includes some improved anti-piracy technology, which will be important if the Chinese want to secure rights to Hollywood movies--we all know how important copy protection is to the big studios.

(Source: Crave UK)