Blu-Ray & HD-DVD Guide

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are the two next generation, High Definition DVD formats competing to be the next standard. Both are undoubtedly technically superior to your current DVDs and both have comparable features and capabilities.

Here's a run down of what you can expect to find in both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD:

1080P output capability. The holy grail of high definition video, both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray will support this feature - the big question for you will be: Does your television accept 1080P? Currently not many sets on the market do, and those that do are very expensive. Luckily, even older HDTV's support 1080i, which is also quite good. Even if your HDTV only supports 1080i, you'll still see a HUGE improvement over regular DVD's.

High Storage Capacity. With around 25-50 gigabytes of space on one disk, not only is there room for the high resolution, 1080P film, but also multiple high resolution audio sound tracks, high definition extras, games, and more.

Next generation audio tracks. The extra storage capacity means space for the newest, uncompressed 7.1 audio tracks from Dolby Labs and DTS. Where current DVDs use lossy compression to squeeze audio tracks onto dics, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD will not need to do this. The result will be far superior audio quality compared to conventional DVDs.

Upconversion of conventional DVDs. Not only will both formats be compatible with your older DVDs, but upscaling will keep them looking their best. Software in the player will scale your 480p DVD collection to 1080i or 1080P. True HD? No. But they'll look pretty good. You won't have to throw out your current DVD collection.

What's the Difference?

There aren't many significant differences between the two new formats in terms of specifications and performance ability. Currently Blu-Ray currently has an edge in storage capacity, but that's the key difference at this point.

A more meaningful difference to you, and probably the most relevant question in terms of predicting success for each format is the question of who is backing each format. Microsoft and Toshiba are the major developers and backers of HD-DVD. Sony developed Blu-Ray, and they and most of the major movie studios are backing Blu-Ray. Also significant to note is that Sony's PlayStation 3 will sport a built in Blu-Ray player. Microsoft is selling an add-on HD-DVD player to go with the X-Box 360. The PS3's integrated Blu-Ray and the heavier backing of Blu-Ray from Hollywood and Blu-Ray's superior storage capacity all suggest that Blu-Ray may win out, but HD-DVD has so far beaten Blu-Ray to market, and at a lower price.

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