HD-DVD v Blu-Ray: It's war!

It seems negotiations to agree on a next-generation DVD format have failed, as Toshiba press ahead with HD-DVD and Sony continue to talk up Blu-Ray.

It seems negotiations to agree on a next-generation DVD format have failed, as Toshiba press ahead with HD-DVD and Sony continue to talk up Blu-Ray. Why do you need a new DVD format, you ask? Well, DVD looks fantastic on our little cathode-ray screens but the picture can begin to fall apart on plasma screens. This is because 4.7GB DVDs simply don't have enough space to store high-definition movies. With Sky set to launch its HD service early next year that means that DVDs will soon be seen as the poor relation to broadcast TV. But just as with recordable DVD, the manufacturers can't agree on a standard format for more capacious discs. Single-layer HD-DVD (that's High-Definition Digital Versatile Disc, fact fans) offers 15GB of space on discs that are backwards compatible. Single-layer Blu-Ray (short for, er, Blue Ray) ups the ante to 25GB, but lacks the same level of compatibility. In the HD camp, led by Toshiba, are NEC, Microsoft, Time Warner, Warner Bros and Paramount. In the Blu corner, are Sony, Philips, Matsushita (Panasonic), Apple, Pioneer and Disney. Both technologies use the same size discs as DVD, and both utilise blue lasers, because the shorter wavelength allows more information to be crammed into the same space. But talks to combine the two competing formats appear to have failed, with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri reporting that both sides have accepted that even if agreement could be reached, it wouldn’t be technically possible to update hardware before the release of the formats at the end of this year. The PlayStation 3 will be among the first devices in Europe to use Blu-Ray discs… and just to make the whole battle more interesting, there are rumours that the Xbox 360 will be upgraded from a standard DVD drive at launch to an HD-DVD drive next year. Put on your armour, boys: this is war! Related stories: Sky announces hi-def line-up Sky HD box revealed