The DVD Forum held their 33rd Steering Committee meeting earlier this week. Among other things, the group approved the specs for dual layer HD DVD-R and HD DVD-RW media. Here are some of the highlights from the meeting:
  • Approval of "DVD Specifications for High Density Recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-R for DL) File System Specifications, Version 1.9"
  • Approval of "1) DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc (HD DVD-RW) Physical Specifications, Version 0.9
    2) DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc (HD DVD-RW) 1x-speed Optional Specifications, Revision 0.9"
  • Approval of "1) DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-RW for DL) Physical Specifications, Version 1.9
    2) DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-RW for DL) 1x-speed Optional Specifications, Revision 0.9"
  • Approval of "HD DVD-VR (Video Recording) Product Requirement & Guideline, Version 1.0"
  • Approval of "Logo/Mark for DVD-RW for DL"
  • Approval of "The RPC subcommittee's Request to SC:
    -The RPC subcommittee to request input from studios regarding current and anticipated use of DVD-Video RPC system.
    -The RPC subcommittee to request input from VPC regarding marketplace data regarding multi-region products.
    -The RPC subcommittee to communicate with DVD CCA regarding RPC enforcement.
    -The RPC subcommittee to consider possible change to region code map."
If you'd like to read more, the Steering Committee's entire list of resolutions can be found here. here. Add a comment
Sonic has announced that they've released the CinePlayer Platform. This new playback engine supports the most digital media types and can be used to deliver interactive content via the internet.
Sonic Solutions (NASDAQ: SNIC), the leader in digital media software, the leader in digital media software, today released the CinePlayer Platform, a comprehensive digital media playback "engine" to support virtually any digital media type - music, photos, videos, and web-delivered interactive content. The CinePlayer Platform has two key advantages: first, it allows Sonic's personal computer and consumer electronics partners to tailor a wide variety of digital media offerings based on a common underlying playback engine; this makes it easier and more cost effective for them to test, release and revise their products. Second, the CinePlayer Platform combines playback from DVDs (including Blu-ray disc and HD DVD) with web-delivered content such as advertising, merchandising promotions and bonus material; this allows for attractive new models of advertising, promotion and content distribution. The CinePlayer Platform ships in key OEM channels later this week.
Great, yet another way companies can bombard us with ads. If you'd like to read more, Sonic's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Pioneer Japan has released a set of firmware updates for their latest series of 16x DVD±RW drives, the DVR-111, DVR-111D and DVR-A11XL. Here is the change log for firmware v1.06:
Support New 16x DVD-R Media
( 12x writing:DST, LGE, Gigastrage, Postech )
Support New 16x +R Media
( 12x writing:BeAll, MustTech, Daxon, MAM-E, Interaxia,E-top, Gigastorage, Infosource, Ritek, FTI )
DVD-R/+R Writability has improved.
DVD-R/+R Readability has improved.
DVD-RW/+RW Writability has improved.
DVD+RW Readability has improved.
DVD+R DL Writability has improved.
DVD-RAM Writability has improved. (DVR-111/A11 only)
DVD-RAM Readability has improved.

DVR-A11XL v1.06 - Download

DVR-111 v1.06 - Download

DVR-111D v1.06 - Download
Pioneer has also updated their list of supported media to reflect the changes in the new 1.06 firmware. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in our forum. Add a comment
Lite-On America sent out a press release last night, announcing their new LightScribe capable 'Super AllWrite' DVD writer, the SHM-165H6S. Along with support for the latest version of LightScribe, the SHM-165H6S features features 16x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD+R DL, 4x DVD-R DL and 5x DVD-RAM writing speeds.

Lite-On IT, one of the world's leading manufacturers of optical storage solutions for PCs and Home Entertainment centers, is introducing the world's first DVD optical drive capable of reading and writing to all disc media currently available today, including DVD-RAM and Double-Layer +/- format discs. In addition, the new optical drive incorporates the latest version (1.6x) of LightScribe labeling technology.

The new LiteOn SHM-165H6S "Super All-Write" internal optical DVD burner offers a one-stop archival and presentation solution for anyone who has a need to copy and store information, files, photographs, music or any other important media. The ability to read, write and re-write to any disc format on the market offers users the ability to purchase disc media based on price, capacity, or brand with the added comfort of knowing that whatever the decision, the media will work flawlessly with the "Super All-Write" SHM-165H6S.
The SHM-165H6S will be available nationwide in February 2006. More information can be found on Lite-On America's website. Add a comment
DigiTimes has reported that Ritek and CMC took the top two spots in global DVD+R/-R disc shipments during the 4Q of 2005.
Ritek and CMC Magnetics, the top two makers of optical discs in Taiwan, respectively maintained the first and second largest share of global shipment volume for DVD+R/-R discs during the fourth quarter of 2005, according to Japan-based market research firm Fujiwara-Rothchild.

India-based Moser Baer India (MBI) surpassed two Taiwanese makers, Daxon Technology and Prodisc Technology, to jump from the fifth largest maker of DVD+R/-R discs in the third quarter of 2005 to the third largest maker in the fourth quarter. This was mainly due to MBI's successful price-cutting strategy, according to local industry sources.
If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
Thanks to the Japanese company Buffalo, we've learned that Pioneer has a new Labelflash capable DVD writer on the way. Like the DVR-111D, the DVR-111L features 16x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD±R DL and 5x DVD-RAM writing speeds. Here are some of the drive's specs:

DVD Writing Speeds:
DVD+R: 16x
DVD+RW: 8x
DVD+R DL: 8x
DVD-R: 16x
DVD-RW: 6x
DVD-R DL: 8x
CD-R: 40x
CD-RW: 32x

Read Speeds:
DVD-ROM (Single Layer): 16x Max
DVD-ROM (Dual Layer): 12x Max
DVD±R: 12x Max
DVD±RW: 8x Max
DVD±R DL: 8x Max
DVD-Video: 5x Max
DVD-RAM: 5x Max
CD-ROM: 40x Max

We have not heard when Pioneer plans to ship the DVR-111L. However, Buffalo's new drives should hit store shelves by the middle of March. More information can be found here. Add a comment
According to the Korea Times, five US film studios have sued Samsung over a glitch in their DVD players, allowing users to sidestep both region encoding and HDCP.
Samsung Electronics, Asia's most valuable high-tech company, is scrambling after multiple U.S. movie studios reportedly took the Seoul-based firm to court, alleging glitches in its DVD players.

Over the weekend, Bloomberg news reported Walt Disney, Time Warner and three other major film makers filed the lawsuit against Samsung in U.S. court.

They claimed that Samsung's DVD players allowed consumers to avoid encryption features that prevent unauthorized duplication and demanded a recall of all the problematic products, Bloomberg said.
Samsung believes the DVD player in question is the DVD-HD841, which was discontinued more than 15 months ago. Of course, the big question then is "why now?". To put it simply, the movie industry is trying to make it clear that they do not want companies producing products that can bypass the protection schemes they've put in place. Most importantly, those that they've worked hard to implement in Blu-ray and HD DVD. Anyway, if you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Last week, Toshiba America let slip that their upcoming HD DVD players would require a firmware update before they could take advantage of some of the format's interactive features. The company is now backpeddling, stating that their first-generation players will support these features, at least those available at launch.
"Toshiba's first HD-DVD players will support the advanced content features called for by HD-DVD," said Junko Furuta, a company spokeswoman. She said the firmware upgrade will come into use when new features that aren't yet part of the interactive system are added.

"While our players will provide support for current HD-DVD advanced content from the start, we anticipate that the industry may add to these capabilities as HD-DVD continues to develop. Toshiba's players can be updated to support future applications and services, which may include downloading supplemental audio and video content, disc-related online shopping and other features yet to be imagined."
Between this and AACS not being finalized, I have a feeling that early adopters are going to be in for a rough ride. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
While the final specs for the new Advanced Access Content System (AACS) have not been approved, an interim license agreement has been made available. Thanks to this agreement, the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps should be able to release their products on time.
Toshiba American Consumer Products on Thursday announced an ambitious marketing push in support of HD-DVD but conceded that some of the high-definition optical disc format's interactive features won't be available in the two first-generation players slated to hit stores next month without a "firmware upgrade."

Meanwhile, sources close to the rival Blu-ray Disc camp say an agreement has been reached on an interim license for the AACS copy-protection system both formats will use, removing one of the final obstacles that had been standing in the way of a launch.
While the Blu-ray Disc group has not announced a launch date, HD DVD players and movies are expected to hit store shelves in March. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
I came across an interesting article over at Engadget this morning. According to the author, Microsoft wants both HD DVD and Blu-ray to fail in order that digitally distributed video can succeed.
"Simple. Microsoft really has nothing to gain from either format winning. Just listen to any of Gates' recent interviews and how he talks about discs as a necessary evil until the world is ready for media-free distribution. That said, Microsoft has much to gain from both formats losing. Think back to the format war between DVD-Audio and SACD. Both formats lost and it was a computer company that stepped in to become the new center of the digital music universe.

"Microsoft was a bit late to the game for that one, but it's making a big investment into securing Windows Vista for Hollywood as well as ensuring that Portable Media Centers work with DirecTV set-tops. Microsoft gets to sell DRM software and Windows Mobile licenses so that consumers can take this stuff on the go. All of that is a lot less likely if the content is trapped in a 5-inch round jail, regardless of which camp is the warden.
While an interesting theory, I don't buy it. One thing the author is forgetting is that Microsoft is the developer of iHD. If HD DVD became the dominant format, the company could potentially make a small fortune thanks to royalty payments. In any case, if you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment