July 01, 2006
| by Steven Castle
Here’s the skinny, in case you didn’t already know: There’s a new technology that puts high-definition movies onto DVDs. That’s right, DVD movies with much greater resolution, as in way better pictures than standard DVDs. Sounds great, huh? So if you have an HDTV or plan to buy one, you can also purchase one of the new high-definition DVD players-yes, you’ll need that too-and watching a movie at home will never be the same.
But there are a few things you should be aware of. First and foremost, there are two different formats for this new DVD technology. And they’re not compatible. As of this writing, some major movie studios are only backing one format or the other. So say you wanted to buy the high-definition version of Such and Such a Flick, but it’s produced by That Studio Over There, and you bought a new player that only plays Those Other Discs ... Whoops. You’re outta luck.
That’s the big issue that could hold back the world of high-def DVDs at home. However, in the near future, there will be players that support both of these new disc formats, called HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. LG, for one, has already pulled back on a Blu-ray-only player to produce one that plays both formats. We also expect to see most of the studios, though probably not all, support both formats.
There are other issues as well, such as whether many of the HDTVs that are already in people’s homes but that don’t have the latest digital connections will be allowed to display the high-definition images from these new discs. (Which, of course, seems entirely unfair to the multitudes who own older HDTV sets.)
We’ll divulge more about that later, because everyone wants to know who’s going to win this big format war. And of course, we’re here to tell you, right? After all, you want to be on the winning side.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates