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HD DVD and Blu-ray FAQ

Old 01-05-06, 04:28 PM
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HD DVD and Blu-ray FAQ

I thought we could start a thread that can serve as sort of a primer. What I notice every time HD is brought up, the same questions or false claims come up. Post what you think should be in the FAQ and I'll edit my original post.

Q: What is HD-DVD?

A: Developed by Toshiba, this next generation optical disc format promises to fill the needs of consumers looking for high definition content. Incorporating a blue laser, which allows data to be place much closer together than standard DVD, this format is able to hold 15GB per layer (as compared to 4.7GB for DVD and 0.7 GB for CD). HD-DVD also uses the same data distance placement as DVD, so it is much easier for current DVD replicators to switch to the new standard.

Q: What is Blu-Ray?

A: Blu-Ray is a next generation optical disc format developed by Sony to support the needs of consumers as we move into a high definition era. DVDs are unable hold the large amounts of data required to playback high definition movies. Blu-Ray combines two techniques to increase the amount of data which can be stored on the same size optical disc. The first is use of a blue laser which allows the data to be placed much closer together, and thus, allowing more data to be place in the same space. The second is moving the data closer to the surface of the disc, which allows that same data to be pushed even closer together. The end result is an optical disc – the same size as a CD or DVD – which can hold 25 GB per layer (as compared to 4.7GB for DVD and 0.7 GB for CD).

Q: Why two formats?

A: HD-DVD is the format accepted by the DVD Forum (the governing body of the DVD format) as the next generation optical disc standard. Not satisfied with the progress being made by the Toshiba led group, and wanting a bigger piece of the royalty pie, Sony and a few partners developed their own optical disc format to challenge HD-DVD. The result was two competing formats, neither of which are compatible with the other. Both sides tried to combine the two formats, but talks soon broke down as neither side was willing to budge. Both are launching Spring 2006.

Q: Can I still play my DVDs?

A: Neither format is backwards compatible with DVDs, as both use blue lasers (where as DVDs use red lasers). Players for both formats require an additional red laser in order to play DVDs, and so far, all announced players will be able to play DVDs.

Q: What type of audio will the new formats have? DTS? DD? Something new? Will the new formats be compatible with my current receiver?

A: Both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc are establishing audio standards for their respective disc formats. Based on reports elsewhere, there are hints concerning the audio formats we might expect, and there’s good news and a bit of bad news. Both formats have endorsed Dolby Digital Plus, an enhanced extension of the Dolby Digital format. DTS will likely be offered on both formats, and DTS has also created an extension in the form of DTS-HD. Both Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD are lossy, but each should provide improved fidelity and accuracy. But best of all, both Dolby and DTS have devised new lossless digital audio formats that promise to convey every single bit found on the studio masters for greatly improved fidelity: Dolby TrueHD and DTS++.

So the good news is that as high definition DVDs are introduced, fidelity should enjoy a significant leap upward; the sound quality should be noticeably better than the finest DTS or Dolby Digital track you’ve ever heard from DVD. The bad news is that with respect to audio, technological progress is going to force investments in new equipment. Your existing decoders are not programmed to deal with the new processes, and I’d be surprised if any could be updated with new algorithms; I suspect that the processing power required to deal with the new digital audio formats will exceed your processors’ computational abilities. But don’t throw that expensive decoder or receiver out the window just yet; our friends at Dolby and DTS have made their new audio formats backward compatible.

You will be able to feed the digital audio S/PDIF bit stream from the new high definition players into your current decoder or receiver and the fidelity you’ll experience will be no less than you perceive today, possibly better. And if you have a system that supports proper bass management when driven from its analog inputs, the first wave of high definition disc players are expected to have multi-channel analog audio outputs to provide full fidelity audio decoded with the new algorithms.

So unlike the studios’ potential requirement to have early adopters purchase new displays equipped with HDCP-compliant HDMI inputs to view full resolution high definition video, you will not have to rush to purchase a new digital audio decoder. The difference in urgency between preparing for the video and the audio stems from the differences in video and audio improvements found on high definition discs; unlike the dramatic improvement over standard resolution video you’ll see in high definition images, the new “high definition” audio formats’ improvements will be subtler. You’ll eventually want to upgrade your audio path, but Dolby and DTS have been kind to us. Backward compatibility is assured. Now, if only the studios would be as kind with the video.

Q: What titles have been announced for each format?

A: Check out this link for a detailed list.

Q: What are the disc capacities of the new formats? How many hours of content does that translate into?

A: Blu-Ray capacity (pre-recorded playback storage):
Single layer: 23.3GB, 25GB, or 27GB
Dual layer: 46.6GB, 50GB or 54GB.

In addition, since the layers are thinner than HD-DVD, in theory more layers can be added to reach capacities of: 100GB-200GB (25GB per layer).

HD-DVD capacity (pre-recorded playback storage):
Single layer: 15GB
Dual layer: 30GB

Q: Will older films really look better on HD than DVD?

A: Any presentation that is shot on film has the potential, if restored and mastered carefully, to look better on HD than DVD. HD's resolution does not even approach the "resolution" of film stock. Of course, if the mastering is not done well, the results will show in the final product.

Q: Is HD really a greater increase in resolution over DVD than DVD was over VHS?

A: Absolutely. The resolution of VHS is 320i (the i stands for interlaced, where every other line is drawn on each pass of the gun onto the screen). The maximium resoultion of DVD is 480p (the p stands for progressive where every line of resolution is drawn each pass of the gun onto the screen)

HD tops out at 1080p. Many studios are mastering their film in a 4K resolution and down converting them for HD/BR and SDVD.

Q: Do I absolutely need an HDTV to operate one of these players?

A: Short and simple answer is NO. The max rez you'll get is 480i with a regular TV set but you would still get the advantage of whatever extras are exclusive to the new formats. You'll also be "future proofing" your collection.

Q: Do I need to be connected to the internet to watch both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Discs?

A: No internet connection is necessary to view the film on the disc. In order to take advantage of some of the advanced features, like interactive games and managed copying, an internet connection may be required. More information on these details should be forthcoming.

Last edited by Qui Gon Jim; 01-21-06 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 01-07-06, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Qui Gon Jim
Blu-Ray and HD-DVD use different compression types though. So a 2 hour movie will take around 18gb on BluRay and 9GB on HD-DVD.
That's not really right. Both formats will be using either MPEG-2, H.264, or VC-1 for the video. A 2-hour movie encoded with the same codec and at the same bitrate will take up the same space on either type of disc. The only differences in video will come from how much quality the disc producers want to trade off for space for other stuff (like additional audio tracks and special features). Obviously, the additional capacity of Blu-ray will allow for more features without compromising the video bitrate.
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Old 01-08-06, 05:23 PM
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Blu-Ray studios are given the choice of the codec they will use. AFAIK, Sony is the only one who has said anything about using MPEG 2 to start.

They are using both VBR and CBR (variable & constant bitrate) for titles so you can't really say how much disc space each 2 hour title will take.
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Old 01-09-06, 12:22 PM
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Suggestion: Bold the questions in the FAQ so it is easier to scan over them. At least bold the "Q:" part like:

Q: Do I absolutely need an HDTV to operate one of these players?
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Old 01-09-06, 12:35 PM
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Excellent suggestion. I also removed the business of speculating how much space a film will take up since that is so variable depending on compression, codec and bitrate.
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Old 01-10-06, 06:12 PM
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Point taken. I have changed the Q from "picture quality" to resolution. Resolution is in no way subjective.
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Old 01-10-06, 06:32 PM
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Thanks -- I've split off the discussion about the differences between HD vs. DVD and DVD vs. VHS into another thread.
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Old 01-11-06, 12:02 AM
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Q. Do I need to be connected to the internet to watch both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Discs?
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Old 01-11-06, 07:41 AM
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No, but you'll need to be connect for the extra content.

There's a much longer answer than that, but that is what Qui Gon Jim is here for.
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Old 01-11-06, 09:03 AM
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Removed editorialization.
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Old 01-13-06, 12:59 PM
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What is Blu-Ray?

Blu-Ray is a next generation optical disc format developed by Sony to support the needs of consumers as we move into a high definition era. DVDs are unable hold the large amounts of data required to playback high definition movies. Blu-Ray combines two techniques to increase the amount of data which can be stored on the same size optical disc. The first is use of a blue laser which allows the data to be placed much closer together, and thus, allowing more data to be place in the same space. The second is moving the data closer to the surface of the disc, which allows that same data to be pushed even closer together. The end result is an optical disc – the same size as a CD or DVD – which can hold 25 GB per layer (as compared to 4.7GB for DVD and 0.7 GB for CD).

What is HD-DVD?

Developed by Toshiba, this next generation optical disc format promises to fill the needs of consumers looking for high definition content. Incorporating a blue laser, which allows data to be place much closer together than standard DVD, this format is able to hold 15GB per layer (as compared to 4.7GB for DVD and 0.7 GB for CD). HD-DVD also uses the same data distance placement as DVD, so it is much easier for current DVD replicators to switch to the new standard.

Why two formats?

HD-DVD is the format accepted by the DVD Forum (the governing body of the DVD format) as the next generation optical disc standard. Not satisfied with the progress being made by the Toshiba led group, Sony and a few partners developed their own optical disc format to challenge HD-DVD. The result was two competing formats, neither of which are compatible with the other. Both sides tried to combine the two formats, but talks soon broke down as neither side was willing to budge. Both are launching Spring 2006.

Can I still play my DVDs?

Neither format is backwards compatible with DVDs, as both use blue lasers (where as DVDs use red lasers). Players for both formats require an additional red laser in order to play DVDs, and so far, no player has been announced that won’t be able to play DVDs.
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Old 01-21-06, 07:31 PM
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Typo:

Can I still play my DVDs?

A: Neither format is backwards compatible with DVDs, as both use blue lasers (where as DVDs use red lasers). Players for both formats require an additional red laser in order to play DVDs, and so far, no player has been announced that won’t be able to play DVDs.

I think you meant "...no player has been announced that will be able to play DVDs"
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Old 01-21-06, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidH
I think you meant "...no player has been announced that will be able to play DVDs"
All of the announcements I've seen mention DVD playback. The wording could probably use a little polish is all.
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Old 01-21-06, 10:30 PM
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I went in and edited it, what do you think?
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Old 01-22-06, 11:15 AM
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Yeah, I used a double negative in there. Looks fine.
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Old 01-28-06, 04:37 PM
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Definitely reads better.
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Old 02-04-06, 12:53 PM
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I if understand this i am going to have to buy two different DVD players because of two differnet formats?
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Old 02-04-06, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly30
I if understand this i am going to have to buy two different DVD players because of two differnet formats?
Well, you don't have to , but until a universal player is released, if you want to play both formats, you'll have to have different players.
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Old 02-06-06, 01:49 AM
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thanks
long but useful
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Old 02-10-06, 01:55 AM
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These new HD players... i'm assuming you can hook them up to HDTV's through the YPbPr (Component) Cables or do they have to be HDMI or DVI?
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Old 02-10-06, 03:24 AM
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O_o
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Old 02-10-06, 03:49 AM
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According to reports, HD-DVD discs can be "flagged" by the manufacturer to only display at full resolution over HDMI or DVI (HDCP compliant versions). If this "flag is set, the best performance over component will be 480p.

BR has not specified any info about this feature. I believe as of right now, it is assumed that all BR discs will be 480P only over component.

Kinda stinks for anyone with a set lacking the HDMI interface.
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Old 02-10-06, 07:34 AM
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Is it possible to watch them on TV DVD? ( I'm noob in this )

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Last edited by Yaroslav; 03-29-06 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 02-10-06, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Qui Gon Jim
According to reports, HD-DVD discs can be "flagged" by the manufacturer to only display at full resolution over HDMI or DVI (HDCP compliant versions). If this "flag is set, the best performance over component will be 480p.

BR has not specified any info about this feature. I believe as of right now, it is assumed that all BR discs will be 480P only over component.

Kinda stinks for anyone with a set lacking the HDMI interface.
Darn, I only have DVI, so i'm gonna have to find a player that has DVI connectivity. I heard that HDMI-to-DVI cords reduce the picture quality... if it doesn't then i'll just buy a HDMI-to-DVI cord.
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Old 02-10-06, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BMan100
I heard that HDMI-to-DVI cords reduce the picture quality...
I don't see how that would be possible. Everything stays completely digital, and a cord like that isn't going to be able to re-encode any video or anything.
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