This isn’t news to anyone in the know, but high definition TVs are flying off the shelves at record rates. As you unpackage your new LCD, plasma or projection high-def television, you’re probably thinking of all the new things you can do with it. You probably want to get the most out of your new television.
Getting high-def cable or satellite isn’t an issue right now. In fact, it is really easy to upgrade or purchase a new receiver for your high-def TV. It looks good and you can begin watching sci-fi TV. Great! But what do you do about your DVD player?
Right now there is a huge format war going on between HD DVD and Blue-Ray DVD. Unfortunately this makes getting the most out of your new high-def TV confusing, especially as to which format you should use.
HD DVD came out before Blue-Ray and got a head start in the format war. With the release of the PlayStation 3, the market was flooded with new Blue-Ray players, allowing Blue-Ray to catch up. Blue-Ray now outsells HD DVD 2:1 according to CNet’s News.com.
In case you didn’t know, Blue-Ray is developed and supported by Sony, the people who brought you Betamax and Mini Disk players. HD DVD is developed and supported by Toshiba, the people who brought you the technology behind the standard-resolution DVD player.
Recently HD DVD saw a spike in sales thanks to the release of Transformers the movie, released by Paramount, who only puts movies out on HD DVD. The most recent Transformers movie has sold over 100,000 HD DVDs, a record for any high-definition video format.
Right now Paramount and Dreamworks exclusively releases movies on HD DVD. Blockbuster will only rent Blue-Ray disks. Confused yet? I’m sure you are. A similar format war almost happened with the standard DVD format. Wikipedia says:
In the early 1990s two high-density optical storage standards were being developed; one was the MultiMedia Compact Disc, backed by Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density disc, supported by Toshiba, Time Warner, Matsushita Electric, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Thomson, and JVC. IBM’s president, Lou Gerstner, acting as a matchmaker, led an effort to unite the two camps behind a single standard, anticipating a repeat of the costly videotape format war between VHS and Betamax in the 1980s.
Philips and Sony abandoned their MultiMedia Compact Disc and fully agreed upon Toshiba’s SuperDensity Disc with only one modification, namely changing to EFMPlus modulation. EFMPlus was chosen as it has a great resilience against disc damage such as scratches and fingerprints. EFMPlus, created by Kees Immink, who also designed EFM, is 6% less efficient than the modulation technique originally used by Toshiba, which resulted in a capacity of 4.7 GB as opposed to the original 5 GB. The result was the DVD specification, finalized for the DVD movie player and DVD-ROM computer applications in December 1995. In May 1997, the DVD Consortium was replaced by the DVD Forum, which is open to all other companies.
Hopefully something will eventually happen to unite the current two HD formats. Until then what should you do?
Like me, you probably already have a few sci-fi movies you like to watch. Perhaps you don’t want to fork out the money to purchase new HD DVD disks. Have you considered DVD upscaling? DVD upscalers can take your current DVDs, and with some processing power, increase the picture quality for your new HD TV.
Wikipedia says this about DVD upscaling:
Upscaling DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) Players are a reasonably cheap way of upscaling standard DVD-Video discs using a video scaler to match the pixel count of the signal to the physical pixel count on a high-definition television or computer monitor, resulting in better detail and color consistency. Standalone DVD players which feature upscaling use either a standard component video or VGA analog cable, or a DVI-D or HDMI digital cable to connect to the high-definition television. Standalone DVD players with component video or VGA output connectors use a digital-to-analog integrated circuit microchip which does the upscaling, while DVD players with DVI-D or HDMI output connectors use a digital-to-digital integrated circuit microchip which does the upscaling. Computer software DVD-Video players like PowerDVD and WinDVD also features upscaling of DVD-Video.
I am considering going with DVD upscaling for video playback until the format wars are over, someone has won or there is a good duel-format player available. DVD upscaling players are widely available and can be purchased at any electronics store as a stand-alone unit. Most DVD upscaling players use an HDMI cable for video output. I have seen these players in action and the picture quality looks very good.
My Xbox 360 can use an optional HD DVD player, at a price of about $179, that will not only play HD DVD disks, but will also upscale existing DVDs. The PlayStation 3 also touts the ability to upscale DVDs as well.
Good luck in your search for the ultimate DVD player and sci-fi movie experience!