HD Wars

Listen to the podcast Question: What is the difference between the two kinds of high-definition video discs, and is it important for computer users? The IT Guy says: As any of you who are video enthusiasts will know, we are locked in a heated battle for which new technology will replace the DVD. Two
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Question: What is the difference between the two kinds of high-definition video discs, and is it important for computer users?

The IT Guy says:
As any of you who are video enthusiasts will know, we are locked in a heated battle for which new technology will replace the DVD. Two different systems are competing for this market: one called HD-DVD, and the other Blu-ray. (The latter name is based on the wavelength of the laser used in the player. Just so you know.) There isn't a huge advantage of one over the other, and different hardware companies and movie companies have lined up on either side of the argument. Right now the films available are split just about 50-50. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a long, drawn-out affair, as the licensing fees for the winner will be in the billions of dollars.

So how does this affect computer users? Just as the new technology replaces DVDs for playing videos, it will replace DVDs for data storage. While DVDs can store up to 4.7 gigabytes, HD-DVD can store up to 30 GB and Blu-ray 50 GB. (With new variations on the basic technologies, those can potentially go as high as 45 GB and 100 GB, respectively.) High definition disks represent the next generation of inexpensive data storage, which will become increasingly necessary with increased use of digital video and high-resolution digital cameras.

Unfortunately, the same disagreement in the video world spills over into the data world. The major computer companies have split their support for HD-DVD and Blu-ray the same way the video and movie companies have, so as new drives begin to appear in computers, we will have incompatible formats preventing potentially complicating the trading of data. It hasn't become a major issue yet, but there are already computers available with these drives, and in the very near future it such drives will be come a common option. One Welcome to yet one more complication to in the already confusing process of buying a computer!

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