Blu-ray, HD-DVD square off at Media-Tech show

At the Media-Tech expo May 10-12 in Las Vegas, Blu-ray and HD-DVD manufacturers spent a great deal of time promoting their non-compatible formats to the professional side of the industry.

Those who will actually make the discs acknowledged that talks are underway to unify the two high-definition formats. Both camps had a day to present technical papers and demonstrations on mastering, manufacturing and testing both formats.

Both camps underscored their intention to have products ready to ship by Q4 05/Q1 06. Toshiba announced a triple-layer hybrid disc at the conference, and Sony already has a recordable Blu-ray player and media on the market in Japan.

The connection between the arrival of HD discs and HDTV was implicit in several of the marketing presentations. However, the elephant in the room was the ongoing talks between Blu-ray and HD-DVD corporate leaderships, as reported in Japanese newspapers. There was speculation that the two could arrive at an agreement as early as the E3 conference in this month. But many expected talks to fail and both formats to move forward and do battle in the real world.

James Steynor, chairman of test equipment maker Datarius, told Audio Technology Update that while Blu-ray is more complex from a manufacturing point of view, it has a fast learning curve, is a more secure format, and features a new third layer that adds significant credibility.

However, he said the biggest problem would be waiting to see if unifying the formats will stop future investments.

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