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DVD Forum Closer to Specification for iDVD

12 Dec, 2002 By: David Ward

The DVD Forum's ad hoc group studying Web connectivity and interactivity for DVD discs and players is close to finishing its specification, which should clear the way for Web-enabled players from major manufacturers by next Christmas.

“What we're trying to do is get a 0.9 specification by year end,” said InterActual president Todd Collart, who has been leading the ad hoc committees in charge of developing the standard. “One of the things we've been talking about at the Forum is, you will see some features that can be played offline without an Internet connection, but then those features can be enhanced if an Internet connection is detected.”

There have been Web-enabled DVD players in the past, but those devices, which allowed users to surf the Internet and send e-mails from their living room, haven't proven popular with consumers. Collart said the DVD Forum wasn't looking to provide that type of “WebTV”-like experience.

“The core message is that the content companies can now build this type of online feature directly into the content,” he said. “The consumer isn't going to think of this as two separate things -- the Internet and DVD-Video. If it's not integrated into the core entertainment experience, I don't see why people would go online with the device.”

PlanetWeb president Ken Soohoo conceded the standard has been a long time in coming, but explained, “The Forum has gone through a long, arduous process of making sure that everyone is comfortable with the specifications. It's not quite done yet, but we're starting to get some movement with regularity in that we've been getting releases of upgrades to the specs at reasonable rates.”

No one is quite sure of what the exact final specifications will be or even what it will be called, but according to Soohoo it will likely require more processing than is available in entry-level DVD players.

“I don't anticipate it coming anywhere close to the $100 price,” he said. “It's going to take more resources from RAM, from storage of flash and CPU power, to actually render it up.”

The new standard also will not be ready in time for manufacturers to show products at next month's Consumer Electronics Show, but Soohoo noted, “It's been talked about enough so that it won't need a big splash at CES. There will be players in 2003, and my belief is it will be the top innovators in the category bringing them out: Toshiba, Panasonic, Sony and one of the two Korean companies, if not both of them.”

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