High-Def Video Superguide

Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD are here. Who makes the best next-generation movie player?

Blu-ray Disc vs. HD DVD

We slice through the technical specs to determine how the formats stack up.

Blu-ray DiscHD DVD
Disc capacity 125GB single-layer -R/RE/ROM;
50GB dual-layer -R/RE/ROM
15GB single-layer -R/ROM, 30GB dual-layer -R/ROM, 20GB -RW/RAM
Data transfer rate (audio/video)54 mbps (up to 48 mbps for audio and video, with up to 40 mbps dedicated to video;
6 mbps is for overhead)
32.4 mbps (29.4 mbps for audio and video; 3 mbps is for overhead)
Data transfer rate (data only)1X BD = 36 mbps1X HD DVD = 36.55 mbps
Price of media$20 for BD-R, $25 for BD-REExpected spring 2007 2
Maximum resolution1920 by 1080 (at 50i, 60i, 24p)1920 by 1080 (at 50i, 60i, 24p)
Video codecsMPEG-4 AVC, VC-1, MPEG-2MPEG-4 AVC, VC-1, MPEG-2
Audio codecsDolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD Master Audio, Linear PCM 3Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD (core), Linear PCM 4
Maximum number of audio channels7.1 (for Linear PCM, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio)7.1 (for Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD)
On-demand picture-in-picture (via a secondary video stream)Optional (required as of October 2007)Mandatory
StorageOptional; minimum of 256MB required as of October 2007 (1GB for BD Live ethernet-
connected players)
Minimum of 128MB required
Movie studios supporting
the format
Buena Vista (Disney), Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros.Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros.,
Weinstein Company
Number of movies shipping
in the United States 5
Region encodingYesNo
Bottom lineBlu-ray Disc has the edge with its breadth of studio support, greater variety of hardware, and better specs. But the format's interactive capabilities lag dramatically behind those of HD DVD.HD DVD devices deliver on most of their promised interactivity. For now, however, your hardware choices are more limited than with Blu-ray Disc.

Footnotes:1 The writable and rewritable disc formats for Blu-ray Disc are BD-R and BD-RE, respectively; for HD DVD the formats are HD DVD-R/RW/RAM. 2 Burners will ship by spring 2007. 3 At a minimum, a player must decode a core two-channel audio stream from these formats. 4 A player must decode at least two channels of Dolby TrueHD and 5.1-channel audio for the other formats. 5 As of 2/20/07.

Chart Note: Both formats support the Advanced Access Content System copy-protection scheme.

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