The high definition format war inches ever closer, but it already feels like the majority of battles have been fought. Blu-ray is now clearly in the stronger position (Fox this week said it won’t even release a single title on HD DVD) and today Panasonic has today begun production of dual layer 50GB discs.
Technically, the term is ‘pilot production’ which is essentially a dry run at mass production (if you follow my logic?). This will take place at the company’s Torrance based factory in California and is the first attempt by a manufacturer to ramp up anything other than single layer discs.
For those with short memories, single layer Blu-ray discs hold 25GB and relatively stable mass production of them has been around for a while now. The real technical challenge is to achieve the same results with dual, triple and quadruple layer discs which will boost potential capacities to 50, 75 and 100GB respectively. Sony even has a 200GB octuple (eight) layer disc in development, but that is some years away from the high street.
Of course HD DVD runs into difficulties here as its 15GB single layer capacity drops further and further away from Blu-ray as the layers are added, though it is backwards compatible with existing DVD players, something Blu-ray did mute but looks unlikely to fulfil. Despite this, Blu-ray is considerably ahead on points at this stage and Sony will be hoping announcements like Panasonic’s will help it land a knockout blow early next year.