HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc: The New Laserdisc? Part 1

I remember the first time I saw Laserdisc (LD), back in the ’80s, and thought “Hey that’s cool,” and moved on to the VHS section of the store. Jaws was being played back on the LD player and it did look better than VHS, but I had recently parted with $300 to get a VHS player and had no intention of upgrading anytime soon.

Fast forward 20 years. I never did buy into LD, but own at least three DVD players/recorders now and remain pleased with the audio/video quality of DVD on my standard definition TV. At nearly a decade old, DVD is a mature format, some would argue it is even stale. Many of the features touted by DVD, seamless multi-angle (up to nine simultaneous angles selectable by the user), parental access controls and interactive sub-pictures, are under utilized or never utilized in Hollywood titles. Most DVD consumers nowadays don’t know these features even exist.

Granted, the multi-angle feature was always crippled by the limited capacity of DVD, but the opportunity exists to produce immersive, interactive content for standard definition DVD, but few producers do, and even fewer of these titles are available to the masses.

Then there is Enhanced DVD, also known as WebDVD, integrating DVD-Video with computer-based and web-based content, extending the interactive and connective capabilities of standard definition DVD even further. Such a beast with these robust capabilites would be a boon for retail marketing, training and education. But it made a little splash and disappeared into obscurity due to a lack of good authoring tools and general lack of interest from consumers and the DVD community.

Enter HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The big consumer electronics manufacturers need something to spur new sales since DVD players have saturated the marketplace with increasingly downward price pressures for new players.

Now there is (are) a new format(s) offering high-definition video on DVD. The stunning picture and audio quality is only surpassed by the new interactive features that provide consumers with an immersive “in movie” experience. If you own a high-definition TV, this is a must have.

But wait a second, I don’t own a high definition TV.

Tune in next week for Part 2 of “HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc: The new Laserdisc?”

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