It was interesting watching Casino Royale on 1080i on the HDTV. Everything looked much clearer and some of the more subtle scenes were more visible. It would be nice if blu-ray was able to permanently end this format war between HD-DVD so that blu-ray prices and the price of better players will go down and allow more blu-ray users to enter the market.
Initial reports speculated that HD-DVD would win support since it was being supported by the PC companies such as Microsoft and had backing from porn studios. However, it was all different once the Playstation 3 came out with a built-in blu-ray drive that was bundled with a sampler in some cases. As the format war went on, Sony was able to secure support from all the major studios except Universal and the porn companies (to not lose their exclusivity with Disney) as well as Dell and Apple. The HD-DVD supporters countered by bundling standard DVD films into their HD-DVD selections which explains why some newer HD-DVD films such as Unleashed or Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift has labels that let buyers know they can play the disc on regular DVD players.
The technology for blu-ray was developed as early as 1994 and was featured on a “Popular Science” article. The article explored the implications of using a blue laser diode for data storage with the use of blue laser for encoding as well as a profile of the inventor Shuji Nakamura, who now teaches at the University of California- Santa Barbara:
Dr. Nakamura worked at Nichia for about 20 years, leaving the company in 1999 after the conflict over how he should be compensated began to develop. During the latter years of his work there, he spent time, largely alone, working on various improvements in light-emitting diodes, work which the company neither authorized nor appreciated. The success of his pioneering work in the development of a practical 405nm LED resulted in a patent or patents assigned to Nichia, and led almost immediately to the commercialization of much-higher capacity optical disc recording devices and the media used with them. Nine major electronics companies, later expanded to at least 12, formed the “Blu-Ray Disc Founders Group” to develop and market new products using the Nichia blue-violet laser diode, and Sony Corporation introduced the world’s first “Blu-Ray” digital video disc recorder in late March 2003.
I would like to point out that blu-ray is actually an revolution from DVD as opposed to HD-DVDs, which are simply an evolution of the format. While HD-DVD are essentially enhanced DVDs that are able to hold more capacity to store high definition movie file, blu-ray uses a blue laser that not only allows for more storage capacity but also with uncompressed sound quality. Sony has also taken measures to promote their format by adding scratch resistant coating to all of their blu-ray discs. As Sony increases the popularity of blu-ray through their games and exclusive films, the problems of exclusivity will go away once they become the de facto standard.
It’s also interesting to note that Microsoft was reluctant to support their external HD-DVD player because they see it as “another Betamax” which was ironically Sony’s ill-fated videotape format.