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HD VMD Gears Up to Take on Blu-ray

5 Mar, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

Now that a bitter and prolonged battle with HD DVD is over, Blu-ray has other obstacles to overcome, such as consumer satisfaction with DVD, digital downloads and the upcoming threat of … HD VMD?

While it may seem like a David and Goliath scenario — one where David doesn't have a chance at victory — the maker of the “other” high-def format, New Medium Enterprises, is convinced it's got a shot.

“The way is now clear for VMD to be embraced by the industry, our technology is robust and our format is clearly equal to the quality required to deliver a true HD experience for the consumer at a price they are prepared to afford,” NME CEO Geoff Russell said in a press release.

Touting its cheaper production costs, cheaper hardware costs (less than $200 right now) and the disc's ability to carry 30GB of high-def entertainment, NME believes all it needs to catch Blu-ray is studio support.

“NME has developed the VMD technology independently and is poised to come to market in several territories in the next quarter. All indications are that VMD can fill the void left by HD DVD for a hungry production industry and rapidly growing HD-screen enabled consumer market,” said NME Chairman Michael Solomon.

Andy Parsons, SVP of product planning for the home entertainment group at Pioneer Electronics and marketing director of the Blu-ray Disc Association, said Blu-ray will continue to stand alone in the high-def world.

“It would be very hard to imagine yet another HD format achieving success at this stage. I don't see this format as a significant threat to Blu-ray,” he said. “The development of a physical medium is just the very beginning of a successful packaged media format. In fact there are many other equally important elements required to gain traction in the market.”

Near-universal studio support, the backing of almost every major hardware manufacturer, and a six-year head start in the development of Blu-ray will be too much for HD VMD to overcome, Parsons said. And then there are the Blu-ray specifications.

“The establishment of an appropriate application layer, i.e., the video and audio codecs, navigational data, structure, interactive functions, and content protection layer(s). An enormous effort … has gone into the development of what's now known as the Blu-ray Disc format,” he said. “In other words, the most challenging aspect had far more to do with how content would be stored on the discs rather than the physical discs themselves.”

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