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The difference between Blu-ray and HD-DVD

Question : What are the major differences between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, the two new DVD formats?

Answer : The conventional DVD format can record data and video from computers and televisions and store about 4.7 to 8.5 gigabytes of information on a disc. With the arrival of high-definition TV, two different standards -- Blu-ray and HD-DVD -- are competing to be DVD's dominant successor. On recorded discs, Blu-ray can hold 25 to 50 gigabytes of information and HD-DVD can hold 15 to 30 gigabytes; still greater capacities are being developed for both standards. With this increased capacity, both of the new formats promise higher audio quality and better screen resolution (1,080 lines) than the current DVD format.

Blu-ray has Sony, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Dell in its camp, while HD-DVD backers include Toshiba, NEC and Sanyo. Microsoft is including HD-DVD support in Windows Vista as well as in its Xbox video game console, but Sony's new PlayStation 3 will use Blu-ray technology.

Movie studios can release films in both formats, but without a universal player that can handle both, Blu-ray discs will need to be played in Blu-ray players and HD-DVD discs will require compatible HD-DVD players. At least 100 movies are planned for release on the Blu-ray format this year, while 200 are scheduled on HD-DVD.

Samsung has said it will introduce a Blu-ray disc player in April with a price tag around $1,000, while Toshiba expects to start shipping HD-DVD players (prices starting around $500) in March. Warring technology formats often shake out into one dominant standard, so if you are in no hurry to buy a next-generation DVD player, waiting may be the way to save some money and buyer's angst.

 
 

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