Frank Simonis, chairman of the BDA, took some shots at HD DVD on Friday. Commenting on the, now debunked, rumor that the 51GB HD DVD spec had been approved he expressed that the announcement was simply a publicity stunt.
“I’m not surprised at all,” he told us. “But we believe they are very much in a reactive mood. Based on their format one would expect that a triple layer disc is three times a HD DVD single layer adding up to 45 GB. Now suddenly they change it to 51GB for promotional reasons.
“Secondly I have not heard anything about a production line for this odd format. When are they going to start making these discs?”
Well, now we know that the spec hasn’t actually been approved, so the answer to his question is – no time soon. He also took the opportunity to spread a little FUD about the format, if and while it ever launches:
Simonis also said that the BDA is dubious as to whether existing HD DVD players will be able to read these new 3-layer discs which have 2GB per layer more than the original format.
“You better ask them,” he said, “I question it, however, very much.”
The FUD is a cheap shot and I’m sorry to see him make it. Since Toshiba has been working on this spec since before CES in January, I certainly expect them to have considered it in the design of their newer players. Personally, I’m sure their 3rd generation players would support it, and probably their second generation as well. However, back when they were still talking about a 45GB three-layer format, Toshiba indicated that their first generation players would most likely not be able to support a three layer disc, and I don’t expect that to have changed with the newer format which is even more dense and thus harder to read.
In other news, HD DVD’s lack of region coding is leading to release delays. While it is arguably more consumer friendly, allowing HD DVDs from anywhere in the world to be played on any players, the international market creates issues. DVD had region coding to allow for varied release schedules and licensing around the world, Blu-ray has a much-simplified region coding system for the same reason. Now New Line Cinema, which supports both HD DVD and BD, will be delaying their HD DVD releases to allow for delayed theatrical releases and licensing in other countries. DVD and BD will be released day-and-date, while HD DVD will follow some months later. The first title will be Hairspray, with DVD and BD streeting on Nov. 20, while the HD DVD release will be held until sometime in the first half of 2008. The BD version will be Profile 1.1, with PIP extras.
Speaking of HD DVD, Toshiba has released a firmware update for the HD-XA2, HD-A20, HD-A2, HD-A2W, and HD-D2. This update adds 1080p24 output support as the big addition.
On the retail front, Target is expanding their Blu-ray support. They’re expanding shelf space for Blu-ray titles, but not HD DVD:
Target is shifting the balance of its high-definition software merchandising toward Blu-ray Disc, now devoting twice the amount of display space to that format than it does to HD DVD in some or all of its stores.
Also, Target is still planning to begin offering a Sony Blu-ray player as the only standalone high-def player in their stores. (They will still sell the HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360.) Andy Parsons, chair of the promotions committee for the BDA in the US, took the opportunity to take a little shot at HD DVD:
â€œYouâ€™re going to get a clear message when you see more Blu-ray than HD DVD, and youâ€™re going to think something is up,â€ said Parsons. â€œThe message to the consumer is that one of these [formats] is dominating. Youâ€™ll go with the masses and pick titles from the one that is likely to win.â€