Four Hollywood Studios Back Toshiba's DVD Format

Gretchen Gallen
HOLLYWOOD – Four of the leading Hollywood studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and New Line Cinema, have officially taken sides with Toshiba's new DVD format HD-DVD, stepping over competing optical disc standard Blu-ray.

HD-DVD and Blu-ray have been in a locked race for dominance over next-generation DVD market share, however backing from the four major movie studios is expected to be a considerable advantage for HD-DVD.

"We have evaluated all of the emerging home entertainment technologies and have selected the one which we feel is the most beneficial to our consumers," said a representative for Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Both standards are represented by large consortiums of electronics, software, and entertainment companies. The Blu-ray format was developed by the Blu-ray Disc Founders, which includes Hitachi, Ltd., LG Electronics Inc., Industrial Co., Ltd., Pioneer Corp., Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Sharp Corp., Sony Corp., TDK Corp. and Thomson Multimedia.

HD-DVD has so far garnered support from hundreds of companies, including Toshiba, NEC and Sanyo Electric, and while HD-DVD has been criticized by its competitor for offering a lower data storage capacity than Blu-ray, HD-DVD can store more high-definition programming and could be cheaper for manufacturers because it uses technology that more closely resembles current DVDs.

HD DVD is designed to hold 15GB on a single-layer read-only disc and 30GB on a dual-layer read-only disc. HD-DVD also specifies a 20GB rewritable disc, whereas Blu-ray discs hold 25GB on a single layer and 50GB in a dual-layer arrangement.

Backers of the Blu-ray format are reportedly researching the possibility of four to six data layers, which would boost capacity to up to 150GB on a single disc.

Both formats, which analysts say could possibly coexist, are 1.2 millimeters and use blue lasers instead of the red lasers used in current DVD players. They are also designed to be compatible with current DVD technology and include advanced video compression/decompression technologies.

On the heels of the announced alliance with HD-DVD, the four movies studios said they plan to issue DVD titles using HD-DVD formatting, however, no details have yet been released.

Sony and Matsushita, which owns the Panasonic brand, have already commercialized Blu-ray technology and currently sell recorders in Japan. The machines offer limited Blu-ray disc format support and won't play prerecorded discs.