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Excerpted From USA TODAY, by Mike Snider.


Even as the public's love affair with the DVD blossoms, the tech world is hard at work in the lab creating the next generation of high-definition disc.


Don't panic; any future player also will handle the discs you buy today. But just as DVDs are of higher quality than TV, digital TV and high-definition programming have leapfrogged the quality of DVD.


"The studios, artists and directors really want to get the home theater experience as good as possible," says Richard Doherty of consulting firm The Envisioneering Group.


Beyond better video, HD-DVD discs may hold seven-channel soundtracks and more interactive bonuses.


Most companies involved are skittish about discussing next-generation discs for fear of confusing consumers and derailing DVD. But about two years into the discussions, several systems are competing to become the standard:


The Blu-ray Disc, supported by nine major makers, including Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Pioneer, could store up to 50 GB of data (more than six times the data capacity of today's DVD) by using a blue laser beam instead of the current red laser. Blu-ray recorders and players could play current DVDs, but Blu-ray discs could not be played on current players.

Advanced Optical Disc, a second blue-laser system proposed by NEC and Toshiba, brings disc capacity to 20 GB. One advantage touted by backers: Today's DVD-making equipment could easily be modified for the new discs.

HD-DVD-9, based on the current DVD format, uses improved software compression to pack 135 minutes of HD video onto the disc. It was developed by Warner Bros.


A format decision is expected by the end of the year. But that hasn't kept the technology from peeking out early: Sony released a Blu-ray DVD recorder in Japan earlier this month for about $3,800. HDTV is more prevalent there, and viewers increasingly want to time-shift high-definition programs.


For the full story:
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/te...dvd-main_x.htm
 
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