Next Generation DVD War Heats Up

The argument between next-generation DVD formats Blu-ray and HD DVD got even more heated on Thursday. Blu-ray supporters Dell and Hewlett Packard shot back at comments made Tuesday by Microsoft and Intel in an announcement of support for HD DVD, calling the two companies statements on Blu-ray “inaccurate.” At issue were comments made regarding Blu-ray’s storage capacity, copyright protection and the format’s “backward compatibility.”

“It is surprising that Tuesday’s announcement is not aligned with that of the vast majority of the computer industry and is contrary to our consumer research,” said Maureen Weber, General Manager of Hewlett Packard’s Personal Storage Business. Thursday’s statements could be seen as damage control for the Blu-ray side, as the group enjoyed months of positive press coverage while its competitor HD DVD appeared listless, and without direction. But Tuesday’s announcement of the backing of both the biggest operating system vendor and CPU vendor in the world was a huge win for the format that could be hard to counter.

Although Blu-ray claims a disc size advantage with dual-layer capacities of up to 50 GB, it has been disputed by HD DVD supporters who say a method to mass produce that size disk has not been proven outside of a controlled lab.

Blu-ray directly disputed those claims, saying “Blu-ray Disc’s capacity is 50GB. This will be available at launch,” however it is not clear when the launch will take place.

The organization also took issue with the hybrid DVD claims, saying it had been the first to debut such a disk. Instead of the standard DVD data being on the opposite side of the disk as it is in HD DVD, it remains on the same side in the Blu-ray format.

However, older DVD players may have an issue with single-sided disks, supporters of HD DVD note.

Finally, Blu-ray took issue with Intel and Microsoft’s claims that Blu-ray does not allow for the secure transfer of movie data to portable devices, called managed copy. “Managed Copy is not a function of the optical disc format, but a function of the content protection system,” the organization said.

But HD DVD supporters say that with their format it is mandatory for some kind of secure transfer support. In Blu-ray it is optional, thus opening the door for some movie studios to prevent copying of discs.

Both formats are expected to launch sometime in the first half of next year.

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