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DVD Forum: 51GB HD DVD Still Testing; Paramount to Up HD DVD Efforts in 2008

10 Oct, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

The 51GB HD DVD is a reality, but whether it will work on existing HD DVD players is still up in the air, according to a Toshiba representative of the HD DVD Promotional Group. The announcement came Oct. 9 at the DVD Forum's North America DVD Conference in Universal City, Calif.

Toshiba's Mark Knox said the technology is still in the testing phase, but would likely receive final approval from the DVD Forum by the end of the year. The three-layer disc would narrowly trump the storage capacity of rival Blu-ray Disc's 50GB.

“We're still looking at the backwards compatibility,” Knox said, adding a firmware update for existing HD DVD players might be needed, should studios eventually use the technology.

Knox also added that more “twin format” HD DVDs could be in the works. Unlike the HD DVD combo discs, which have a high-def film on one side and a standard definition version on the other, the twin format can hold two 30 GB of HD DVD and 4.7 GB of standard definition on one side of a disc.

Only Bandai Visual's Freedom 1 anime HD DVD, released quietly in June, has taken advantage of that technology.

Other news out of the DVD Forum event:

  • Paramount, which went HD DVD exclusive in August, has only four HD DVDs planned for the rest of the year. But the studio will make a bigger HD DVD splash in 2008, according to a Paramount representative. Roughly 30 titles from Paramount and DreamWorks are already planned for 2008.

  • Dan Silverberg, VP of high-def marketing for Warner Home Video, said it's possible high-def set-top boxes could reach 1.2 million households by the end of the year.

  • “That's a lot,” he admitted. “But it's possible.”

    That number was disputed by Paul Erickson, senior HD analyst for NPD DisplaySearch. He estimated fewer than 1 million high-def standalone players would be in homes by the end of the year, but that consumer adoption would pick up in 2008.

    “We know the consumers are buying next-generation [optical disc], just not at the level we may have expected,” he said. “We feel that the format war is going to be somewhat extensive.”

    Ken Graffeo, EVP of Universal Studios Home Entertainment and co-president of the HD DVD Promotional Group, said consumer comfort with DVD is getting in the way of high-def.

    “Our real challenge isn't really against Blu-ray,” he said. “It's against consumer satisfaction with DVD.”

  • Silverberg also touted the fact that Warner Bros., as the last major studio releasing titles on both Blu-ray and HD DVD, owns the largest high-def software market share (36%) and claims the most high-def units sold for a single title (400,000 copies of 300).

  • Carl Pinto, VP of product development and product management for Toshiba, shared company estimates that show 5 million notebook PCs will be equipped with HD DVD technology in 2008. He emphasized the fact most of those notebooks will be easy to connect to a TV.

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