This getting ridiculous / a third Hi Def format

CEDIA: HD VMD to Make US Debut This Fall
Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 01:34 PM ET

The long-anticipated third high-def disc format (yes, you read right) is set to hit US shores this October.

Short for "Versatile Multilayer Disc," the VMD format was originally announced back in 2006, but had evaded US release until now.

Developed by UK technology company New Medium Enterprises (NME), the format's red laser multilayer disc is currently capable of storing 15 to 20 GB on a single layer, with plans to grow that number to 30GB.

But according to its manufacturer, the real sell of VMD is its ability to deliver the same high-quality video and audio as Blu-ray and HD DVD at a fraction of the cost -- both to the consumer, and the content creator.

While disc production costs for Blu-ray and HD DVD are said to run somewhere between $2 to $3 a unit, VMD discs reportedly cost just over a $1/unit to produce, only slightly more than standard-def DVD.

In terms of hardware cost to the consumer, NME says its first player will hit the US market in October at a $199 price point, roughly 30% less than any standalone high-def disc player currently available (although Venturer recently announced plans to release its own $199 1080i HD DVD player in time for the holidays).

Price aside, VMD is likely to face an uphill battle both for recognizable high-def content, and for shelf space at retailers.

The company's press release includes no mention of any US-based content partners, and it seems highly unlikely that any of the major studios will make their films available on VMD disc -- at least in the short term. (Overseas, the company has partnered with a number indie film distributors, most notably including Eastern Europe's Monolith Films which owns regional rights to films like 'Apocalypto,' 'Lord of War,' and '16 Blocks.')

On the retail side, so far NME has only identified one US retailer who will carry its players --

NME is demonstrating its new player this week at the CEDIA Expo.
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Got mine on order already.
I completely agree. Too many formats just end up confusing the consumer. Many will probably resist buying new players wondering what's next and should they wait. Keep it simple. But this is not unlike so many other products out there with a plethora of features, bells & whistles (cars, tv's, cell phones, blackberries, PC's, etc).

Good news! Thanks. My confusion level on the new HD formats needed some greater level of distress. this should help.

Lowered production costs, and increased quality might prove out. however, another format likely will just add to the confusion and keep the majority of buyers from wading into the HD video waters. it will for me. In the end perhaps the lessened production costs will break the tie, though I think it too optomistic to believe the end user will see prices being cut at their level, yet may sway some content makers. Provided retooling for the latest entrant is not decidedly enormous.
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Yeah, it's gunna get stranger here. I think the computer storage hard-drive machines are going to take over mostly. I mean people are more into content and convenience than quality, byenlarge. I mean MP3 Ipods and computer software are where the focus is these days. People would rather go to their DVR box, and record/play a movie for convenience anyway. I think the rental discs are slowing, personally. And I think media storage servers is where it's going, with maybe downloadable movie options for $1!!!
We'll see
You're missing the big picture here. I think this is GREAT news. The reason DVD-A and SACD weren't widely adopted is they had no meaningful, practical applicability to the mainstream public (at least as they could perceive it), and as a result we audiophiles were unable to ride on the coattails of their collective pursestrings.

Now with a large and growing number of JQ Publics owning HDTVs, they have a BIG incentive to invest in DVD players that will show off and help them justify the investment they've made in their new display units (despite the fact that 90% of them are probably set way to bright and sharp to achieve their potential). They've already seen what HD does for broadcast TV, so it's easy for them to see for themselves there are real benefits to be had in the DVD realm as well. Put another way, they're already pre-sold on the new format, whatever it is.

So, ipso facto, if JQ Public buys into these new formats the software will follow and hi-def music along with it. We finally get to ride on the coattails we missed before. And if some UK company comes along and forces Blu-ray and HD-DVD to do it cheaper, so much the better for us. Hey, Samsung (I think, but could be somebody else) has already introduced a player that will play both new formats, so universal players seem inevitable. So we as audiophiles finally get our ultra high rez format we've been craving but have only been able to sample these past several years.

So stop arguing about another format war -- who really gives a sh*t -- because no matter who wins, we as audiophiles will finally get our next "perfect sound forever" blessed by the masses.

This is a great time to be an audiophile.
Wait! There's more! Don't forget MVI (Music Video Interactive) discs, which are just now being rolled out.
I agree with Soix. Any new audio (hi rez) format needs to hang itself on video, because for most of the world, video is where it's at. It really is nothing but good news.
Soix, you wrote: "So, ipso facto, if JQ Public buys into these new formats the software will follow and hi-def music along with it."

That is a big IF. Who buys a player that has very little available software?

Which comes first the chicken (hardware) or the egg (software)?
Yeah, I guess that's about right
Don_s -- I agree without the software it's a dead issue. But there are hi-def movies being released on a regular basis, and people who have either HD-DVD or Blu-ray players are raving about the images they're getting on their HD screens, so average consumers do recognize a significant benefit (unlike what happened with SACD and DVD-A where we audiophiles were the only ones who cared).

I would not bet against these new hi-rez DVD players, and as they get cheaper and more people get HD displays there's no way people won't adopt them. Heck, they even make their standard DVDs look better on their HD sets -- bonus. And as they find their way into more households and become the norm, the resistance of music companies to release hi-rez music to play on them will diminish. So I don't think there's any IF about it -- it's already happening. Unless you think movie studios aren't going to issue their product in HD or that music companies don't want to make more money and re-issue past releases in a hi-rez format along with new releases, this is a done deal. There's a ton of profit to be had here along with a clear and meaninful benefit to consumers, and that's the bottom line and why this will ultimately succeed.

By the way, I think it's LG that's manufacturing a multi-format player, not Samsung as I mentioned in my previous post.
Comparisons of hi-def DVD formats to DVD-A and SACD formats don't hold up because people notice visual improvements right away, and historically the buying public has largely embraced improvements in picture quality (and format convenience). Look how quickly DVD overtook VHS even though most people weren't taking advantage of the discrete digital soundtracks or using progressive scan. The DVD picture quality was still better and people liked that (and probably not having to rewind, the small size, etc.).

Also, look who's hawking HD televisions and disk players: the mass marketers. Go into a Circuit City, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sam's, or Costco and it's all you see. It's obvious to anyone that the picture from a Blu-ray or HD DVD player on a 1080p display is even better than what you get in a movie theater. The mass market has embraced it and is pushing it.

That was never true of SACD or DVD-A.
The video rental store I go to has more and more hi-def disks each time I visit (I'm still doing dvds). I think one of them will take off and the audiophile will get a free ride with audio-only disks at some point. As has been mentioned, sacd and dvda never had this kind of appeal/boost