Unified next-gen DVD format in the works

Tech Culture

Entertainment companies are urging electronics makers to put an end to a brewing battle to establish a next-generation DVD standard--and apparently Toshiba and Sony are listening.

Executives from both companies have been tipping their hands regarding talks about a "unified" format to solve the problem of incompatibility between their two next-generation DVD technologies--HD DVD and Blu-ray. Toshiba and Sony have become mouthpieces for the industry groups they belong to promoting the two formats. Both sides have been open to a single format, but neither has wanted to cede ground to the other. Negotiations are now turning to unification, and a solution using parts of both formats is already underway, according to some reports.

A single format would prevent consumer confusion--no mix-ups between an HD DVD disc and a Blu-ray player.

These next-generation DVD specifications allow for higher-storage capacities on a disc--up to 50GB on a dual-sided Blu-ray disc vs. about 9GB for a dual-sided DVD disc--which would also benefit the industry's move to high-definition television content. Shows recorded in high definition contain more data than shows recorded in standard definition and therefore use more capacity.

Debates about formats are common in the tech industry, and in the past consumers have made the decision with their dollars. However, entertainment companies derive significant amounts of revenue from DVD sales and they likely don't want technical issues to derail those money trains.

The HD DVD and Blu-ray camps are likely working overtime on this since discs and players are already available to a limited degree and are expected to be more widely distributed by the end of the year.

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