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Holographic Coming Next after Blue Laser DVD?

While Blu-ray--currently the perceived frontrunner--and HD DVD fight it out for supremacy as the dominant player in next-degeneration DVD technology in the HD era, a data storage technology that's mostly been confined to science fiction movies like "Star Wars" may finally reach the consumer by late 2007. That would be only a year or less after the schedule debuts of Blu-ray and HD DVD (should both formats actually debut).

Despite their well-documented incompatibility, both Blu-ray and HD DVD use blue laser technology to, among other things, greatly enhance their storage capabilities. But unlike both DVD formats that still basically record on the surface of their respective disks, holography disks record and store through their full depths.

InPhase Technologies has an alliance with Hitachi Maxell to sell holographic DVD-size discs with storage capabilities up to 300 GB per disk. (According to the respective proponent companies' statements, HD DVD discs will store up to 30 GB, while Blu-ray should manage up to 50 GB.) The InPhase Tapestry holographic system can store about 26 hours of HD video, according to published reports.

Unlike other technology, holography allows a million bits of data to be written and read in parallel with a single flash of light. Therefore, transfer rates are significantly higher than current storage devices, and as a result, holographic discs should be able to read data (including HD video) at about six or more times the speed of the blue laser discs about to hit the market in 2006.

Holographic discs for commercial use may be available by the end of 2006, and consumer discs could start to appear on shelves by the late-2007 holiday selling season, perhaps partly depending on how well the blue-disk HD phase of DVD takes off.