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Blu-ray and HD DVD may soon have more to worry about than each other, as a new much cheaper competitor emerges

At the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), a trade show held in Denver Colorado, a new potential competitor to Blu-Ray and HD DVD was demonstrated.

Instead of picking a side in the heated Blu-ray and HD DVD debate, New Medium Enterprises decided to go their own way, developing a new format called HD VMD.

HD VMD stands for High Definition Versatile Multilayer Discs -- and here's the attractive part:  it is far cheaper than either Blu-Ray or HD DVD, both for discs and for players.

The key to HD VMD's low price is that it utilizes red laser technology, which is still vastly cheaper than the blue-violet lasers used in HD DVD and Blu-Ray players.

HD VMD also stacks up roughly in the middle in terms of image quality, between Blu-ray and HD DVD.  The new format can be compared to Blu-Ray and HD DVD as follows:

             HD DVD vs. HD VMD vs. Blu-Ray


    HD DVD  

$150 (appr.)
€179 (Europe)

$179 (w./ XBOX 360)
$299 (standalone)
$599 (with Playstation 3)
$499 (standalone)

Single Side
Disc Capacity

25GB (single layer)
50GB (double layer)

Data Transfer
40.0 Mbit/s (appr.)

36.55 Mbit/s
53.95 Mbit/s

Laser Type


possible future support for MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)

MPEG-2, VC-1,
MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)
MPEG-2, VC-1,
MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)



Source for HD DVD and Blu-Ray information

Additionally, the format supports up to 7.1-channel Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS audio output, though it will not offer the high-bit-rate Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio surround-sound codec.

One feature that has not yet been discussed is whether the new device will support any sort of interactive code, such as HD DVD XML or Blu-ray's Java.  Blu-ray was harshly criticized when releases failed to measure up to HD DVD in terms of interactivity. If HD VMD does not support a language to provide advanced user interaction, its future releases may face similar critique.

While the HD VMD format is getting a late start in the competition, the format war remains undecided with the vast majority of consumers not having adopted either format, and still using DVDs.

Current sales figures show discs Blu-Ray format disc sales total 1.6 million from January 1 through July 1, while HD DVD sales amounted to only 795,000, and only 3.7 million hi-definition discs have been sold in total.  While both Blu-Ray and HD DVD camps try to use different portions of the sales numbers to indicate their dominance, the important thing to notice, is that these figures mean that only 1 in 100 Americans, approximately, have purchased any hi-definition content this year. 

With Blu-Ray and HD DVD's shallow market penetration, the new format has more of a fighting chance.

HD VMD is debuting with a selection of 20 videos next month, including "We Were Soldiers" and "Apocalypto".  The list has been criticized as not having many hot titles -- please refer to NDM's homepage for a full list.  However, there are currently only 329 titles released on Blu-Ray (as of August 21st), and HD DVD has only 279 titles (as of September 4th), and these formats did not start with significant catalogs either.

While the consumer market is very unpredictable, one thing that always drives sales is a low price.  If HD VMD is able to build its catalog with significant movie releases, and is able to offer a price point as low as planned, it may be very competitive with HD DVD and Blu-Ray.  Soon, Blu-Ray and HD DVD may have far more to worry about than each other.

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By A5un on 9/10/2007 1:10:41 PM , Rating: 3
This is almost too good to be true.

Comparable performance at a lower price, what else could I want?

RE: Wow
By KayKay on 9/10/2007 1:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think if more studios will support this, it would have the potential to be a winner. Can't blame everyone for cheering for the underdog now can we?

RE: Wow
By tuteja1986 on 9/11/2007 4:21:36 AM , Rating: 2
I don't care if it become a standard :!

I like the fact they are cheap :!
Fast :!
30GB of storage data :!

Now How much does one empty blank 30GB media cost ?

This could be a great drive for data backup : )

RE: Wow
By Micronite on 9/10/2007 1:31:57 PM , Rating: 4
Nice, I've been wondering why we didn't stick with red-laser discs.

I'm quite interested that they use MPEG-2 instead of MPEG-4 encoding for now. Although I'm sure they'll move to MPEG-4 when they need to cram additional content on there.

As a matter of personal preference, I really am tired of all the extras they put on discs. For example, If I am going to sit down to watch something, I'm not really interested in the director's voice telling me every detail about how they made the movie. I just want to be entertained. Give me the movie, alternate endings, deleted scenes, and the occasional gag reel (if it really is funny) and I'm set.

RE: Wow
By acer905 on 9/10/2007 1:52:51 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I have always preferred the special edition sets that have 2 disks. One with the movie and the extended/deleted scenes, and the second with all the other stuff that i will occationally watch, but don't really need as much.

Really the only "interactive" feature i would like is if they gave you the option to put the deleted scenes back into the exact spot there were intended to go, rather than just being viewable in some extra menu

RE: Wow
By LostInLine on 9/11/2007 5:36:46 PM , Rating: 2
Dido. Like i'm going to waste my time playing the crappy game they put on the disc with the BDJ or XML.

Note to studios: "Don't waste money on those stupid interactive feature or internet access! Make a cheaper disc that has compatibility with DVD so I can play it in my portable player too!"

I think this is where Disney is just plan stupid with their BDJ hype (the reason they selected BD!?.). If you have kids and own a Disney DVD you probably want to use it on trips. Where is the portable play or BD+DVD disc?

Does VMD support DVD on one of its layers so a standard DVD play could read it?

RE: Wow
By Aikouka on 9/10/2007 2:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
I find it interesting that they didn't simply use MPEG4 as their main codec. I think a fair number of people around here remember the original days of Blu-Ray where it was criticized for looking worse than HD-DVD, because HD-DVD titles used VC-1 and Blu-Ray used a high-bitrate MPEG2. I don't see why HD-VMD would want to make that same mistake.

RE: Wow
By darkfoon on 9/10/2007 4:01:51 PM , Rating: 4
one word my friend: licensing.
H.264 has royalties that need to be paid; so does MPEG-2, but its older, and probably less than H.264.

In the beginning, they can afford MPEG-2 licensing for the 20 titles they offer, perhaps H.264 would bankrupt them.

Then again, I could be completely wrong, because I am not a master on the subject.

RE: Wow
By Aikouka on 9/11/2007 8:18:55 AM , Rating: 2
Well, it's actually a moot point to discuss anymore, because the DailyTech article is incorrect. If you go to the original Yahoo! Tech article, it says that HD-VMD will use MPEG2 and VC-1. VC-1 is essentially the main codec used in HD-DVD and Blu-Ray today.

Here's the portion from the article:
The format uses MPEG-2 and VC1 video formats to encode at 1080p resolution for the time being, and will possibly move to the H.264 format in the future.

RE: Wow
By FastLaneTX on 9/11/2007 1:41:22 AM , Rating: 2
As a matter of personal preference, I really am tired of all the extras they put on discs. For example, If I am going to sit down to watch something, I'm not really interested in the director's voice telling me every detail about how they made the movie. I just want to be entertained. Give me the movie, alternate endings, deleted scenes, and the occasional gag reel (if it really is funny) and I'm set.
So, basically, you want all the extras except the commentary track, which is probably the cheapest part to put on there since it's audio-only... The extras are why I buy a DVD instead of just downloading it or waiting for it to show on TV; I have a hard time watching a movie twice, but with the extra tracks, deleted scenes, "Making Of" segments, etc. mean I can watch it a dozen times before it ends up on the shelf forever collecting dust.

RE: Wow
By Locutus465 on 9/10/2007 5:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
Hate to say it, but I think the answer here is that it is... I'm not sure if at this point they can get backers, and frankely their chart is a bit off, Dual Layer HD does 30GB, I think on a single side unless I'm way off here.

RE: Wow
By Polynikes on 9/10/2007 6:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I'm sure glad I didn't buy into BD or HDDVD yet.

RE: Wow
By herrdoktor330 on 9/10/2007 10:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
Comparable performance at a lower price, what else could I want?

I would like to see what they're charging for the media. Since they're just using the MPEG2 codec, I would hope they would keep the movies around the $20 mark. That would be the sweet spot which would really get this format flying off the shelves. I would also like to see an SATA or IDE PC burnable drive for these at a reasonable price point. I think $75 or less for the drive would really make this thing take off like a rocket.

And if they can keep the price down, this thing could be a contender. It's going to take some adoption by the retail chains and a small ad campaign to educate the consumer. But if these things hit Wal-Mart with a sweet price and a good display, it could do well in America.

I'd love to see this product and it's offerings in stores and how HD-DVD and Blu-Ray will respond to it's presence in the market. At least, this little bugger will drive prices of the competitors down enough to increase penetration for all formats.

As with all things, time will tell.

RE: Wow
By Locutus465 on 9/10/2007 10:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
Trouble is, most HD (and I would imagine blueray) movies are already at that sweet spot save a few AAA titles. So in reality, media costs won't be an advantage for them, and they prices aren't so low that HD-DVD couldn't catch up... Who knows with blueray...

By sam159 on 9/10/2007 1:45:52 PM , Rating: 4
shouldnt that be 3.7 million, but i could be wrong :P

By AnnihilatorX on 9/10/2007 1:53:13 PM , Rating: 3
Lol if it's right I would be laughing for the rest of my life.

By Martimus on 9/10/2007 3:31:21 PM , Rating: 5
The fourth one was such a hard sell that the guy only bought 70% of it.

By imperator3733 on 9/10/2007 7:59:35 PM , Rating: 3
That's the funniest thing I've heard so far today!

By tjr508 on 9/11/2007 3:09:02 PM , Rating: 2
Yap, and definately 1 in 100 Americans have one because who in their right mind would buy two?

A year ago
By v1001 on 9/10/2007 1:35:09 PM , Rating: 4
If this came out a year ago this would have been great. But it's just to late now. $150 HD-DVD players are on the way (online price I'm sure will get that low). And the other two formats already have a large studio backing. The other two formats are just to well on their way for this to break into the market.

RE: A year ago
By Operandi on 9/10/2007 2:36:34 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, Blueray and HD-DVD are just now getting established in the consumer market, a third technically inferior format is doomed before it even gets out the door.

RE: A year ago
By Gul Westfale on 9/10/2007 11:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
i agree, while VMD sounds bloody nice i think it might be too late for them. their biggest problem might be that they don't seem to have any important backers; but bluray has sony (who have their own movie studio to make more titles available) and HD-DVD has MS and a whole bunch of other companies behind it.

then again, they seem to have mel gibson on their side (or his publisher, as apocalypto and we were soldiers are both gibson movies), but associating yourself with a drunken anti-semite might not be such a great idea... lol, sarcasm.

RE: A year ago
By kelmon on 9/12/2007 6:51:56 AM , Rating: 2
Too late? I don't think so since consumers have hardly embraced either Blu-ray or HD DVD. My personal prediction is that neither format will win this format war and rather will be superseded by something else. That might not be HD VMD but given that neither of the current HD formats are by any stretch of the imagination established there's every possibility that it could still do just as well, assuming that it has movies to release on the format.

Currently I'm steering well clear of the HD formats since I don't view them as necessary and I don't expect either format to succeed. If one wins later and I want to watch HD media then I'll join but at the moment I think you've got to be nuts to get involved unless you have money to burn.

By AnnihilatorX on 9/10/2007 1:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
HD VDM stands for H igh D efinition V ersatile M ultilayer D iscs!???

Is the inventor dyslexic or not?
HDVDM sounds like it stands for High Definition Versatile Disc,Multilayer to me.

By AnnihilatorX on 9/10/2007 1:50:51 PM , Rating: 2
Jason I think you had the acronym wrong.
According to the yahoo link you have the correct acronym is HD VMD

By JasonMick on 9/10/2007 2:00:49 PM , Rating: 2
Its being fixed, thanks for letting me know.

By FITCamaro on 9/10/2007 10:08:26 PM , Rating: 3
Cat the to tries eat mouse as it to run tries away.

The path to winning...
By Oregonian2 on 9/10/2007 1:22:16 PM , Rating: 5
Now, to make things more interesting, they need to have Nintendo put their disk format into the Wii. :-)

RE: The path to winning...
By acer905 on 9/10/2007 1:55:22 PM , Rating: 2
Lol, well it does use a red laser! Lets do it!

good idea, but ditch the MPEG-2
By Shadowmaster625 on 9/10/2007 3:09:50 PM , Rating: 5
MPEG-2 is ancient. You could easily fit 2.5 hrs of 1080p video onto a 9GB dvd if a modern codec is used. What I really really really want is to fit an HD video onto a cheap 10 cent 4.7 GB DVD-R. Of course they would never do that.... my god it would make too much sense.

RE: good idea, but ditch the MPEG-2
By phusg on 9/11/2007 4:54:24 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. With broadband being mainstream they obviously need the discs to be >20GB to discourage pirating.
What I really really really want is to fit an HD video onto a cheap 10 cent 4.7 GB DVD-R.

Look around for 720p (re-encoded with x264) to fit a DVD5. Not commericially available unfortunately.

MPEG-2 Only ?
By henrikfm on 9/10/2007 2:58:11 PM , Rating: 3
A third competitor will definetely slow down the HD market because the really competitor right now for HD formats is DVD.

It will be a waste of the VMD media if they use MPEG-2 Video, which clearly can't compete with H264 or VC-1. But I suppose decoder hardware for MPEG-2 only is what makes product even cheaper.

RE: MPEG-2 Only ?
By ArneBjarne on 9/10/2007 3:24:51 PM , Rating: 3
The MPEG-2 only thing is just one of the errors in the OPs table, the format has both MPEG2 and VC-1 now, while AVC is likely to be added.

Another obivious error in the table is the 15 GB capacity listed for HD DVD, which naturally holds 30 GB with dual layer like others have already mentioned.

Oh great, another one
By Flunk on 9/10/2007 2:09:24 PM , Rating: 4
I say we all give up and just buy DVDs forever. Maybe they can decide on one format if no one buys any of them.

By jumpah on 9/10/2007 4:58:08 PM , Rating: 2
HD VMD stands for High Definition Versatile Multilayer Discs but according to the chart it only shows the disc as being a single layer 30gb. Will future discs be multilayer or is it just something I don't understand?

By Natfly on 9/11/2007 12:30:09 PM , Rating: 2
A single side is 30GB, who knows how many layers they are using to get that much storage space. The article doesn't say.

Considering how long it took to create dual layer burners and how expensive the media still is, will VMD even be viable for storage?

Third Competitor
By Albotron on 9/10/2007 1:27:56 PM , Rating: 3
I welcome a third competitor. This will force the other two guys to at least look at the lower costs available in another format. A third cometitor makes the likelyhood of a stalemate between any two other competitors in the competition less likely in a competition involving limited resources.

That said, I don't believe this format can be weighed as a full competitor, since it lacks support for all the marketing bullet points like improved sound, MPEG-4 and VC-1.

By MMilitia on 9/10/2007 1:28:58 PM , Rating: 3
So basically it's another HD format which has similar/slightly lower specs than the two existing HD formats and costs slightly less. Who cares? Most big media publishers have already said they're only producing either blu-ray or HD-DVD and by the time this format gets off the ground and persuades some big names to ship on their format any price difference will probably have evaporated, thanks to the economies of scale afforded by the higher adoption rates of the existing HD standards.

Personally I don't see any compelling reason to adopt this standard over HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. You may be saving a few pounds right now, but is it really worth it if you wont be able to get all your favourite films in the format because the big companies are too locked locked into producing for an existing HD standard? My opinion is no; It's not.

By Murst on 9/10/2007 1:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
How much will a triple-format player cost?

RE: So
By Alexvrb on 9/10/2007 10:44:50 PM , Rating: 1
How much you got, pigeon?

By JazzMang on 9/10/2007 12:57:39 PM , Rating: 2
Why dont we all just make our own formats then?

These format wars are getting quite out of hand.

Nice features....
By mdogs444 on 9/10/2007 1:00:30 PM , Rating: 2
Nice features, nice price point....but how often does the little guy take out the big guy. Especially when big corp's already back HD/BD like Toshiba, MS, Sony, LG, Samsung?

I wish one of these people would just invent an HD disc that can play on an 1080i upscale dvd player and achieve the same performance/quality of the HD-A2 1080i dvd player. Would be good enough for me.

By Mitch101 on 9/10/2007 1:12:01 PM , Rating: 2
If they come out with a cheap burner and cheap media I will buy it.

I need something with more space than todays DVD-9 and a better price than that of BLUE-RAY or HD-DVD burner and thier media costs.

By stepone on 9/10/2007 1:29:45 PM , Rating: 2
If they can get a HD LOTR trilogy out quick before HD DVD/Blu can then maybe that might genrate some buzz (however I suspect it's just the animated film)...

Movies like saw 3 on HD VMD aint gonna get them the attention of the HD crowd or make a big enough splash to peek the interest of anyone still undecided (ie 95% of the DVD watching public).

Still if VMD, HD DVD or Blu ray could get a MAJOR heretofore unreleased big movie franchise (ie LOTR, Star Wars etc) in concert with cheap players then I think many people might take a second look at going HD (myself included) and start the ball rolling...

By Zandros on 9/10/2007 1:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
Apocalypto is distributed by Disney (Touchstone Pictures) and We Were Soldiers by Paramount MPG (Paramount Pictures), both being format exclusive to their respective camps. Just an interesting observation, since it's likely it has something to do with Gibson anyway.

By HaZaRd2K6 on 9/10/2007 2:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
Did you even proofread this article?

Current sales figures show discs Blu-Ray format disc sales total 1.6 million from January 1 through July 1, while HD DVD sales amounted to only 795,000, and only 3.7 hi-definition discs have been sold in total.

I have no idea what that's trying to say. Only 3.7 HD discs have been sold in total? Very confusing.

But on the other hand, I'd like to see how they're getting 30GB on a disc with a red laser, seeing as they are roughly 700nm compared to a blue laser at around 400-450nm.

HD DVD Capacity
By Reikon on 9/10/2007 2:15:22 PM , Rating: 2
Single Side
Disc Capacity

Huh? HD DVDs are dual layer right now with a 30 GB capacity.

Price comparison?
By KentState on 9/10/2007 2:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
How is this going to be cheaper? The only thing that was listed is the price of an unknown player that may be $150. How about a comparison of the media cost to consumers or the per unit cost to manufacture. Who is even making the player?

By phattyboombatty on 9/10/2007 2:30:49 PM , Rating: 2
What's the DRM scheme (if any) that is used for this format?

Please, are you kidding me?
By TheRequiem on 9/10/2007 3:12:49 PM , Rating: 2
This disc doesn't have a chance... plain and simple. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are already established for almost 2 years, no one will even bother to look at HD-VMD... AT ALL

Do we need another format.
By erikejw on 9/10/2007 5:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
Do we really need this?
A new format with no backers.

I am looking for a one format world not three.

By Locutus465 on 9/10/2007 5:43:57 PM , Rating: 2
So to get 30GB capacity on a HD-DVD you need to physically flip the disk? I thought 30GB was acheaved on a single side via dual layers... Or did they make up their comparison chart before dual layer HD-DVD?

Perfect compromise
By marsbound2024 on 9/10/2007 7:00:56 PM , Rating: 2
The technology seems like the perfect compromise in my opinion. It works well for everyone.

Time for a reality check
By BansheeX on 9/11/2007 12:27:43 AM , Rating: 2
This format is going nowhere. Not only is it too late in the ballgame to introduce a third, albeit cheaper format, but there needs to be more skepticism here and I'll happily provide it.

Something tells me that the greater number of layers, the more dangerous a scratch will be to the readability of the disc. And with 3 times the layers of the other HD formats, this thing looks like something that should stay in China. So you can make a pretty little chart that compares a select number of things, but if the format isn't robust, it's worthless. Remember all the longevity issues associated with multi-layer dvd-rs? This 10-layer thing might sound like a great idea for PRESSED discs, but something tells me it's going to suck hard for burning purposes. But of course, seeing how many hd-dvd supporters are still left, cost still plays a huge factor in determining who wins. A better, single format for the long-term be damned. People want so badly to justify a temporarily cheaper product even when both will continue to fall to eventually the same price point. If people could just have a little bit of patience and stop hating Sony so much, then we'll have a more future proof product that can burn more data and have less disc-swapping on movie discs. Sounds good to me for what may very well be the last noticeably better movie format (can you see yourself purchasing beyond 1080p and lossless audio?).

I wonder....
By Darkmatterx76 on 9/11/2007 5:35:17 AM , Rating: 2
If they can get this kind of storage space using Mpeg-2 and the old red laser, I wonder what they could get up to if they went to Mpeg-4 and a blue laser. :)

Found them?
By piotrr on 9/10/07, Rating: 0
ps3 price = 499
By michal1980 on 9/10/07, Rating: -1
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