The successor to DVD has been a long time coming. To be honest itâ€™s actually still not here yet. The spat between Blu-ray and HD DVD should have been in full swing by now but thanks to repeated delays the products have barely arrived in the UK.
HD DVD has got a head start on Blu-ray in the US with Toshiba leading the pack with its HD-A1 consumer HD DVD deck. However, it has been widely reported that this actually uses a Intel Pentium 4 processor rather than a the usual task specific processors used in consumer electronic players of this type and a PC-like architecture explains the reports of very slow start-up and disc loading times.
Sony might be the most prominent backer of Blu-ray but itâ€™s the not first to release a consumer desk. That honour goes to Samsung with its BD-P1000, while Sony has directed its Blu-ray component manufacturing capabilities into PlayStation 3, currently scheduled for November release.
The only actual next gen hardware currently available in the UK is on the PC side. Toshiba has launched a laptop featuring a HD DVD drive â€“ the Qosmio G30, the successor to the G20.
But what if you want to build a system yourself that can play the next generation HD discs? You can pick up a Pioneer Blu-ray should you have nothing better to do with around Â£600 but thereâ€™s no content available in this country and there are no HD DVD burners yet.
So what do you need to get next generation disc content on your PC? Well, there are no less than seven different constituent parts to the puzzle.
1. HD DVD or Blu-ray Drive
2. HDCP compliant graphics card
3. Graphics card driver
4. A codec â€“ eg. PureVideo HD
5. Software File Player â€“ eg. Cyberlink PowerDVD HD DVD
6. HDCP compliant HDTV display
Clearly some of these are stating the obvious and you could even add a sufficiently fast CPU to the list but it does go to show that getting there a lot to think about.
If you need a primer on the basic of HDTV youâ€™ll do very well to take a gander at Riyadâ€™s feature on the subject by clicking here but to recap briefly HDCP is High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection, a system for encrypting digital content. All parts of the chain I listed earlier need to be HDCP compliant otherwise you wonâ€™t be able to view youâ€™re content over a digital connection. If you try and view protected content without a compliant HDCP graphics card or display youâ€™ll get no picture at all.
So when TrustedReviews got an invitation from nVidia and Cyberlink to see a demonstration of HD DVD actually working it was only too keen to take it up the offer. The demonstration was exclusively given by Scott Vouri, General Manager of Multimedia and Software, nVidia and TrustedReviews was the only publication in the UK invited to see it.