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HD VMD to Join Next-Gen Disc War

Starting in a few weeks, the next-gen DVD war will take on a third competitor, of sorts, only this one remains in the red-laser category like standard DVDs. (Both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD are blue-laser formats.) New Medium Enterprises said by next month it will begin to roll out its first units that will enable the HD Versatile Multilayer Disc.

Because of its red-laser technology, HD VMD’s immediate advantage will be cost; NME said its units will go online at starting in the $150 range.

The new-format devices also will be available at Costco and Radio Shack outlets and price points will range somewhat higher than standard DVDs, but considerably lower than Blu-ray or HD DVD discs, according to PC World.

However, there is one huge drawback facing the new format—at least for those early adopters who will be first in line for HD VMD units: There are almost no titles available yet (nor studios planning to issue any packaged content anytime soon) in the HD red-laser format.

One exception is Icon, a studio which is owned by actor/director Mel Gibson. But still only about 20 titles will be immediately available from all sources. (The VMD players will not be able to record. They will only play back content.)

An HD VMD disc will hold up to 30 GB per side. NME has provided updates on its new format’s ramp up at regular intervals over the past couple of years (HD Notebook, June 27, 2007).