I’ve been reading about 3x DVD lately, and HD-DVD seems to think it’s their secret weapon against Blu-ray. I think it could be a Trojan horse instead.
What the hell is 3x DVD?
3x DVD is a regular DVD disc with HD content. The 3x DVD disc is manufactured the same way as regular DVDs (which has become extremely cheap to do). 3x DVD cannot be played on a regular DVD player even though a red laser is used to read the disc, and there is no special trick they’ve pulled in order to increase the capacity of a regular DVD disc. This is where HD-DVD’s 3x DVD falls on its face.
The 3x DVD content must be compressed using the VC-1 or AVC and more importantly the discs can only support 720p (instead of the 1080p regular HD-DVD discs support). This likely also means less features like commentary tracks, documentaries, deleted scenes, and so on.
Frankly this not a path they should take. I remember when DVDs first came out they made most of the widescreen movies non-anamorphic which means they encoded the black bars with the movie, rather than just encoding the movie content (without the bars). It wasn’t a big deal at first because widescreen TVs were few and far between, but once people started buying them the non-anamorphic movies started looking bad because either you watch it with black bars at the top, right, left and bottom, or you zoom the video to fit your TV. These days, on an HD-TV, non-anamorphic movies look horrendous. No amount of upscaling DVD technology can make them look good. It bothers me that I had to re-purchase many of those DVDs just to enjoy a watchable version of the film I already owned. To add insult to injury many discs did not state if they were anamorphic or not leaving you guessing or searching the internet for anamorphic movie lists.
Now it is 2007 and I do not want to get burned again. I think there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way. I won’t buy a lower quality HD disc if I know a higher quality version of the movie will eventually come to market.
If other early adopters feel the same way the HD-DVD format could be in a lot of trouble. Early adopters may avoid buying HD-DVD discs or worse: stop buying HD-DVD discs. If that happens there might be a dramatic shift to Blu-ray.