New High Def DVD Format Comes In Peace

Dennis Faas's picture

No sooner has HD-DVD bitten the dust and a new DVD format appears to be launching -- but its creators say they aren't looking for a war with Sony's Blu-ray. New Medium Enterprises, based in London, say their HD VMD system will cost far less and therefore won't be a direct competitor.

HD VMD, which stands for versatile multilayer discs, is based on the red-laser system found in standard DVD players, unlike Blu-ray which uses a more expensive laser. This means HD VMD players should retail for around $199, one-third cheaper than the lowest-priced Blu-ray machines.

To date, virtually no major movies are available in the format, though that could change with the appointment of Michael Jay Solomon as the firm's chairman. He's a former Warner Brothers International Television president and well-known in the film distribution business, so he may be able to broker some profitable deals with movie houses.

In any case, Hollywood may not be vital to the format's success. The cheap manufacturing costs, which could make even a $90 player profitable, means it will likely be aimed at markets like China and India where locally-produced movies are just as marketable.

Blu-ray producers argue that this price advantage will soon disappear now that they've been established as the dominant format and hardware producers can start competing to drive costs down. (Source:

Current standard DVDs only have two readable layers. The HD DVD format allows regular sized discs to have up to 20 different readable layers, massively increasing the amount of information they can store, which is used to increase picture and sound quality. The format also allows up-scaling, which means machines will be able to play traditional DVDs at a far higher quality. (Source:

It's questionable whether the format will find many fans in the US, given that many potential high-definition DVD buyers were deterred by the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war. But, a $90 player may be so cheap that it captures developing overseas markets before Blu-ray can become established.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet