At the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association trade show in Denver, a company promoting a new high-definition optical disc format demonstrated set-top players and high-definition movies that cost far less than ones that use the competing Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD formats. The only faux pas: Arriving late to a two-party format war that consumers are already reluctant to support.
Next month, New Medium Enterprises’ 1080p set-top players, which use the HD VMD (Versatile Multilayer Disc) format, will go on sale on Amazon.com and in stores such as Radio Shack and Costco for around $150–about half the cost of the least-expensive 1080p HD DVD player, and perhaps a fourth the cost of the least-expensive Blu-ray player. The movies that work in them are similarly inexpensive.
Instead of the blue-laser technology embraced by the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps, the HD VMD format uses the red-laser technology already used to create DVDs, and as a result, keeps the cost of manufacturing discs and drives low, says Eugene Levich, director and chief technology officer of New Medium Enterprises. He said that manufacturing a Blu-ray drive costs ten times as much as manufacturing a DVD or HD VMD drive, because the latter two are essentially the same drive but with different firmware.
HD VMD discs, which hold up to 30GB on a single side, are encoded with a maximum bit rate of 40 megabits per second; that’s within halfway between HD DVD’s 36 mpbs and Blu-ray’s 48 mbps. The format uses MPEG-2 and VC1 video formats to encode at 1080p resolution for the time being, and will possibly move to the H.264 format in the future.
The HD VMD format supports up to 7.1-channel Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS audio output, though it will not offer the high-bit-rate Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio surround-sound codecs.
Source: PC World