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High-def is hot! Consumers are stampeding to HDTV, with cool flat-panel LCD and plasma displays. And, you can shoot and edit HD--videographers are stepping up to new HDV cameras from JVC and Sony, and then capturing and editing in HD formats, using the latest upgrades of desktop editing software. But, what about delivery'? How can you distribute and display that great high-definition content?
What happened to high-def DVD anyway? How are we supposed to record and watch HDTV broadcasts and movies on our home entertainment centers? And, even for data storage, plain old DVDs with 4.7-gigabyte (4.7GB) of storage are starting to look awfully cramped for archiving video files. We need more storage!
The good news is that relief is coming soon, in the form of high-def DVD discs that use blue-laser technology to squeeze 15GB to 20GB of data per disc layer. The bad news is that we are facing yet another DVD "format war"--this time between the incompatible HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats.
But, don't despair. You don't have to wait for new technology; you actually can deliver and display HD content today, on plain old DVD discs, with Microsoft's Windows Media Video HD format.
Confused yet? Let's take a look at the high-def DVD landscape and see if we can shine some light on both the promise of the glorious blue-laser future, as well the additional possibilities of the red-laser present.
HUGE DATA! FROM CD TO DVD TO HD
DVD is being stressed by our storage needs, particularly with high-def content. Moving from standard-definition video (720x480 resolution) to HD (1920x1080) requires a 6X jump in capacity and data rate. But, we'd still like to keep the convenient form factor of those shiny discs, and we'd like players that are backward compatible with CD and DVD.
One solution is to move to higher-density storage. CD was introduced in the mid-1980s, blowing away floppy discs as a data archive format with a whopping 780MB capacity. DVD was introduced in the mid-1990s and stepped up to 4.7GB, offering 6X more storage in the same disc size by moving from an infrared to a smaller-wavelength red laser (780 nm to 650 nm). Another decade later, we're ready for the next jump in capacity, by moving to a blue laser (405 nm) to make even more teeny-tiny data bits on the discs, permitting another 3X to 5X jump in data density to 15GB to 20GB.
The other …