I think this is a very well written and informative thread by namechamps. It sheads light on why and where this format war developed and where it is headed:http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/show...434#post7991434
Was the DVD-Forum right?
Way back in 2003 the 60 member DVD Forum created a HD-DVD steering commitee. Sony and all 10 backers of the BlueRay platform were a part of this program. As were Toshiba and NEC who worked together on AOC (advanced optical disk). The commitee's purpose was to determine the merits, costs, and complications of both technologies to determine the best format to replace DVD and thus inherit the name HD-DVD. Contrary to popular opinion Toshiba did not invent HD-DVD. Toshiba/NEC created AOC and it was chosen by the DVD-Forum (of which SOny was a member) to use the name HD-DVD.
Even in 2003 the 2 format had a lot in common:
Both used 405 nanometer blue-violet lasers to increase capacity.
Both used a 12cm disk to maintain same form factor.
Both used conventional rotational optical technology.
Both used dual layers to increase capacity.
The also had some major differences.
The BD had higher capacity.
The BD had higher transfer rate.
The BD was designed to work with current mpeg2 encoding.
The BD used a newer 0.1mm top layer
The BD used an optical lense with a higher numerical apeture (0.85)
The AOC had lower capacity
the AOC had lower transfer rate.
The AOC promoted the use of newer codec to make up for lower capacity.
The AOC used a 0.6mm top layer to make it compatible with current DVD production lines.
The AOC used an optical lense with same numerical apeture as DVD (0.60)
Even in the begining there was no question that the BD format was superior. It had higher capacity, and higher transfer rate. Also BD recorders were already in production for Japan. However the AOC camp stated that those advances came as a high cost. The question was not which format was better in terms of specs but which made better sense (economically, time to market, and produce a high quality imagine) to replace HD-DVD.
Part of the higher capacity with BD is that it uses a new apeture for it's pickup assembly. This results in a tighter beam and allows data to be packed closer together boosting both capacity & transfer rates. DVD pickup assemblies had fallen to commodity prices. The AOC pickup was exactly the same as DVD except it used a 405nm diode instead of a red diode. This would allow cheap pickups that contain 3 diodes (infared, red, and blue violet). There was some concern the BD would require a glass lense rather than the current plastic lense used in DVD players.
The data layer in a DVD and AOC is 0.6mm thick. This would allow AOC to be produced using existing DVD production lines. NEC demonstrated that existing DVD lines could be upgraded cheap;y (about $150K-$250K per line). BlueRay required new production lines due to it's thinner top layer (0.1) at a projected cost of around $1million - $2million per line. Considering there are about 500 DVD production lines in the world that would be a industry wide cost of up to a $1Billion. The thinner top layer was required to use the higher apeture. Without the higher apeture / thinner top layer BD would have the same capacity as AOC.
Sony argued that the mpeg2 codec was mature and switching codec would not be required. Since HD-DVD would have about 5-6 times the pixels as a DVD it would require an increase in capacity to about 50-55GB. The BD provided such capacity and would allow movies to be encoded with current software. AOC with it's lower capacity would not be able to use mpeg2 and maintain a high PQ, however Toshiba argued that newer codec like H.264 were about 2X as efficent and combining a higher capacity disk with H.264 would allow for a high resolution image.
Toshiba's concept was that the next format should be6 evolutionary. AOC essentially is a DVD with higher data density from changing to a smaller wavelength laser. That aproach worked with the change from CD to DVD which went from infared to red laser resulting in a density increase of about 6x (DVD ended up needing more capacity and hence the dual layer DVD9).
Sony's concept was to make a clean break. They argued that the DVD format had reached the limit of technical advancement. BD allowed a substantial increase in capacity. Sony agreed that it would have an initial higher cost but DVD had a high transistion cost from VHS.
The DVD Forum aproved the AOC format to be the replacement for DVD, and inherit the name HD-DVD. The major factors in that decision were:
* AOC could use existing DVD lines and DVD forum believed that would result in more capacity, lower cost, and faster transistion.
* AOC was a simpler technology and could reach market sooner (AOC claimed late 2004, BD claimed mid 2005 - oops to both sides).
* AOC had lower capacity but 30GB seemed sufficent to hold a 2.5 hour movie (which is about 85% of all content).
BR was determined to be higher tech but too disruptive and costly to produce. There was some question if BR would be ready for mass production by end of 2005. So the "lower tech version" won out. There never was really any chance of a compramise. A BR disk with same apeture/top layer as AOC would have the same capacity. So it really came down to size vs cost.
I remember seeing the headlines on a tech website in late 2003 and was stunned. I thought it was the worst decision ever. AOC was a cheap upgrade from DVD and would require more compression (H.264). BD was the vastly superior format on paper. I was actually glad when the BlueRay Group decided to break off and create a competing standard. Then both formats disapeared for about 2 years. Prior to the release of HD I was still a suporter of BD. I figured when HD-DVD came to market with an improved picture but BD came out with an amazing out of the world experience HD-DVD would die a quick death.
HD-DVD came out and the picture was stunning. In the last 2 years advanced codecs became much better and even the BlueRay format was upgraded to include support for them even though Sony stupidly refuses to admit they are better. I began to see that maybe the DVD Forum was right. I mean HD-DVD sold for as little as $19.95 on Amazon, and with similar production it shouldn't be long before they are at price parity with DVDs. Still I believed the PQ would be better on BD and that would kill HD-DVD. Then the delays came. Not one or two but a new delay announced about every week. Players, titles, and PS3 were all delayed more than once. The last straw was the horrible PQ on the BR disks. The best disks had similar reviews to the average HD-DVD disks. The best HD-DVD have not been matched by BR.
So 3 years later
* The "high tecn" BR format is more expensive.
* Sony is having yield issues with BD production.
* Sony is using mpeg2 despite the obvious issues it has.
* HD-DVD has less capacity but as predicted by Toshiba higher efficency codecs have made that a non issue.
* HD-DVD was first to market and should be able to grow disc production faster and cheaper than BR.
Now some people still say dual layer will bring 50GB however I dont think that will be enough.
I did the math and considering Dobly TrueHD & VC1 use about half the bits for similar quality over mpeg2 & uncompressed PCM it would take a 60GB disk to equal the quality of HD-DVD. Even then is equal quality worth it? The BR group worked with the DVD forum until they lost and then decided to release a competing product (just like Sony did with DVD+R and SACD). This did nothing but add confusion to the marketplace and hasn't resulted in any value to consumers.
BD50 disk will come out soon but HD-DVD disks will get cheaper to produce over time also and 30GB has been shown to be very good when combined with DD+, TrueHD, and VC-1. If the best BD can produce is similar quality at higher prices (both in players & disks) is it really worth it?
HD-DVD will be my only choice (however I will wait for generation 2 players, I doubt Sony will ever allow combo drives. Now Sony may end up winning this war as they have the best marketing department in world, they also have studio support, and the ability to produce a large # of products (both stand alone & PS3). If Sony wins I think we will be stuck with a higher priced product that at best is similar in quality to HD-DVD.
So do you think the DVD-Forum was right?