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Here Come HD Optical Discs

THE DVD may be the most successful electronic gadget of all time. DVD players are everywhere, and they're cheap, too. Every new computer sold today has at least one DVD-ROM drive in it.

Certainly the high-end home theater aficionados who are chomping at the bit to find content for their new 1080p HDTVs will snap up players and movies, providing some initial momentum. But the rest of the market has a hard enough time telling when they're watching HDTV and when they aren't on their new plasma, LCD, and rear-projection TVs.

In fact, if the HDTV has a screen size smaller than 50 inches, it's a safe bet that most viewers won't see the difference between a blue-laser DVD and a red-laser DVD processed with a top-notch HD video scaler and played in progressive scan mode.

Funny — I remember when JVC's D-VHS (D-Theater) came out a few years ago it was supposed to be the hottest thing since DVDs, offering a 25 Mb/s data rate, true 1920x1080 HD playback, and digital surround audio. But you don't see too many of those players these days, and all of the Hollywood studios that supported the format have quietly withdrawn their titles from the market.

Will HD-DVD and Blu-ray succeed — or become the next D-VHS? Only time will tell.

Pete Putman is a contributing editor for Pro AV and president of ROAM Consulting, Doylestown, PA. Especially well known for the product testing/development services he provides manufacturers of projectors, monitors, integrated TVs, and display interfaces, he has also authored hundreds of technical articles, reviews, and columns for industry trade and consumer magazines over the last two decades. You can reach him at

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