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And So It Begins... Apple Bytes into Blu-ray as Favored DVD for HD

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), which represents one of two emerging and incompatible formats for high-definition DVD players and discs, has announced that Apple Computer will become a member of the consortium's Board of Directors. Apple already has its own line of HD content creation tools (both for consumers and pros), such as iMovie HD, Final Cut Express HD, and Final Cut Pro HD editing software.

Not coincidental to the timing of the BDA announcement is the fact that the next release of Apple's software, QuickTime 7, will include MPEG H.264 Advanced Video Codec (AVC), which has been adopted for high-definition DVDs. (Apple plans to release QuickTime 7 in conjunction with the release of Mac OS X version 10.4 "Tiger," the fifth generation of Mac OS X, that will ship later this spring.)

As we noted last week (HD Notebook, March 9) , two different formats for HD-quality DVD will be coming to a store-shelf near you within the next year or less. Studios backing one format, "HD-DVD," so far include Warner Bros., Universal and Paramount. To date, Blu-ray from Sony has the backing of Disney and Sony Pictures. Both formats are incompatible with each other. Apple and Blue-ray backers are, in part, banking on the fact that some computer users are already creating HD content with Apple's editing software such as like iMovie HD, and are waiting for the chance to burn their own DVDs in HD.

Sony said Blu-ray discs will have 5X larger capacity than today's standard DVDs, with a single-layer disc holding up to 25 GB of data; a double-layer Blu-ray disc would hold up to 50 GB. (Today's dual-layer DVD holds approximately 8.5 GB.)