According to Reuters, Disney currently plans to develop original content for Blu-ray. These short films will be shot in high-definition and will accompany films the company plans to release in the Blu-ray format.
Raising the bar in the Blu-ray Disc vs. HD DVD battle, Walt Disney Co. is creating a series of short films to be shot in high-definition to accompany select films the company will release in the Blu-ray format.

It's the first move by any studio to develop original content for the Sony-developed Blu-ray, a step observers feel is critical to giving the format the upper edge over Toshiba's rival HD DVD.
Disney's Blu-ray titles are expected to begin shipping on September 19th and will come in two waves. Out of the initial nine titles, five of them will come with the exclusive shorts. More information can be found here. Add a comment
Warner Home Video has announced that the first wave of its Blu-ray Disc titles will be available on August 1st.
Warner Home Video (WHV), which distributes the largest film library of any studio, today announced that it will launch its first wave of titles on Blu-ray Disc. On August 1, WHV will release four titles -- "Training Day"; "Good Night, and Good Luck"; "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang"; and "Rumor Has It" -- on the Blu-ray format to support the initial roll out of Blu-ray players in North America. "Training Day" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" will be available for $28.99 SRP and "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" and "Rumor Has It" will be available for $34.99 SRP. Future waves of Blu-ray launch titles will be announced in the coming weeks.
If you'd like to read more, Warner's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Blu-ray backers like Sony and Pioneer aren't the only ones experiencing delays. Toshiba has reportedly pushed back the release of their first HD DVD recorder to July 27th.
Toshiba Corp. said Thursday it will postpone the sale of the first recorder for HD DVD high-definition video discs because of a production delay.

The new recorder, the RD-A1, had been slated to go on sale Friday, but the release will be pushed back to July 27, the Tokyo-based electronics maker said in a release.

The new machine combines an HD DVD burner with a one-terabyte hard disk and can record and store up to 130 hours of high-definition broadcasts.
Unfortunately, Toshiba still has no plans to offer the RD-A1 outside of Japan. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
According to research done by the Santa Clara Consulting Group, the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD will not impede the market. The group also expects sales to be nearly $2 billion in 2006 and more than $28 billion by 2010.
Paced by anticipated sales of blue laser players, game consoles, PC drives, and related media, the blue laser disc technology market is expected to exceed $28 billion in sales in 2010, according to Santa Clara Consulting Group (SCCG). Growth will be driven by six sub-segments, according to a report released today: Blu-ray and HD DVD Disc Technologies: Pursuit of a New Standard.

SCCG estimates that the game console segment, supported by sales of the PlayStation 3, will have the most important influence on the blue laser disc technology market, with more than half of the $2 billion in revenue for 2006. Content, including movies and games, will represent half of this market's revenues in 2010.
If you'd like to read more, the entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
ATI has announced that their H.264 video decoder has been chosen by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 HD DVD player. Here's part of their press release:
ATI Technologies (TSX:ATY.TO - News)(NASDAQ:ATYT - News) today announced that Microsoft Corp. has chosen ATI's H.264 decoder for the Xbox 360(TM) HD DVD player, bringing users sharper, more true-to-life visuals and smoother playback of high-definition content. HD DVDs encoded using one of three approved codecs deliver up to six times the resolution of traditional DVDs all on a single disc. Built on ATI's Avivo(TM) technology, the decoder used for the Xbox 360 HD DVD player brings to bear ATI's considerable multimedia know-how to ensure gamers, home theatre buffs, and casual viewers alike get a more perfect picture from the H.264 format.
If you'd like to read more, the entire press release is available on ATI's website. Add a comment
The HD DVD Promotional Group has announced the launch of "The Look and Sound of Perfect" marketing campaign. With this multi-million dollar advertising and publicity campaign, the group will promote HD DVD and educate consumers on the quality and value of the format.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video, Paramount Home Entertainment, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Toshiba today announced the formation of a new trade organization, the North American HD DVD Promotional Group, Inc., at the Video Software Dealers Association 2006 conference. The non-profit group will promote the companies' common interests in the success of HD DVD and to educate consumers on the quality and value of HD DVD.

A new advertising and marketing campaign, also unveiled today, showcases HD DVD as "The Look and Sound of Perfect(TM)". The campaign will be the cornerstone of efforts to be undertaken by the group. The group and its member companies plan to back the campaign with an anticipated $150M in trade and consumer marketing, advertising and promotion through the 2006 Holiday season and into 2007. The campaign will promote the format across all major consumer media outlets -- television, print, online, and outdoor -- co-marketing HD DVD hardware with hundreds of HD DVD titles expected on store shelves by year-end 2006.
With the Playstation 3 launching in November, the HD DVD Promotional Group has their work cut out for them. More information can be found here. Add a comment
It looks like Europeans are going to have to wait a bit longer for standalone Blu-ray players. The Taipei times has reported that Pioneer will not be ready to launch their Blu-ray players in time for IFA in September.
Advertising The on-again, off-again story of advanced optical-disc recording will keep consumers on tenterhooks yet again this autumn, with manufacturers in the Blu-ray camp still not ready to introduce their movie-players to the huge European market.

Pioneer, one of the stalwarts of the Blu-ray camp, admitted this week it would not be ready to launch the players by the time of the Sept. 1 to Sept. 6 trade fair IFA in Berlin, the principal European consumer electronics show.
The article mentions that the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show would most likely "lay the ground" for Pioneer's European launch. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
I-O DATA DEVICE USA has announced that their High Definition DVD player, the AVeL LinkPlayer2, will be sold at CompUSA stores. Here's part of their press release:
I-O DATA DEVICE USA, INC., (I-O DATA) today announced the retail availability of the number one selling High Definition DVD player in Japan. The AVeL LinkPLayer2 is a networked digital media player and DVD player with support for High Definition (HD) file formats such as Microsoft Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9) HD, MPEG2-TS, and DivX HD. Starting August 1, the award-winning AVeL Linkplayer2 will be sold at CompUSA stores nationwide with a suggested retail price of US$249.00. CompUSA customers will also receive a mail-in coupon for one HDNet video title (WMV9/780p) with qualifying purchase of the AVeL LinkPlayer2.

Designed for home theaters and digital media networks, the AVeL LinkPlayer2 features 1080i/780p HD video playback capability (1920x1080 resolution), with support for nearly every digital media file format, including MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG2-TS, MPEG4, DivX, XviD, and WMV9 for video; MP3, AAC, WMA, PCM, and Ogg Vorbis for audio; and JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG for photos. The AVeL LinkPlayer2 reads media from a wide variety of data sources, including CD/DVD dics, USB memory sticks and hard disk drives, digital cameras, memory card readers, iPods and MP3 players, and Windows, Macintosh, and Linux PCs.
The AVeL LinkPlayer2 will be available on August 1st for a suggested retail price of $249. More information can be found here. Add a comment
According to an article at IGN, Sony's Playstation 3 console will support HDMI 1.3. Recently finalized, the new 1.3 spec features 48-Bit color and "lip sync support" which will automatically synchronizes audio and video tracks.
The new 1.3 spec HDMI standard will be incorporated in the PlayStation 3. Ken Kutaragi, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, applauded the 1.3 spec finalization, saying "PlayStation3 will be the most advanced computer platform for enjoying a wide range of entertainment content, including the latest games and HD movies, in the home. By introducing the next-generation HDMI 1.3 technology, with its high speed and deep color capabilities, PS3 will push the boundaries of audiovisual quality to the next level of more natural and smoother expression on the latest large flat panel displays."

Assuming game developers choose to take advantage of 36- and 48-Bit color, the ability to output such a broader color spectrum could give the PS3 a solid technologic advantage over the Xbox 360, which will not be able to transmit such signals over component cables. If the promised, but still not officially announced, Xbox 360 DVI wire comes out, it too will not have the bandwidth to carry the high-Bit color that HDMI 1.3 supports.
If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Here's an interesting bit of news. At a recent shareholders' meeting, Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida announced that the company is still interested in developing a unified DVD format.
Toshiba Corp. (6502.T) said on Tuesday it would still like to develop a unified format for advanced optical DVD discs, but two competing -- and incompatible -- products are likely to hit the market at first.

Toshiba is a leading proponent of next-generation HD DVD optical disc technology, which competes with the Blu-ray standard promoted by Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news). (6758.T) and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (6752.T), a maker of Panasonic brand electronics.

"We have not given up on a unified format. We would like to seek ways for unifying the standards if opportunities arise," Toshiba President Atsutoshi Nishida told an annual shareholders' meeting.
This late in the game, we're not going to see a unified format. Both sides have already invested a lot of time and money developing and promoting Blu-ray and HD DVD. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment