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Software makers the only certain winners in hi-def DVD format war

by Bob Crabtree on 6 January 2006, 09:47

Tags: Roxio, Cyberlink (TPE:5203), Corel, Nero, Intervideo, Ulead

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2006 International CES

As our reports from this week's 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are already demonstrating, there's set to be a battle royal between the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD camps over which of the two forthcoming high-definition optical disc formats will prove most popular.

If the two can't profitably co-exist and there is a losing camp, those in it may end up being hard hit financially. But, who comes out on top probably won't matter much to the software firms that make programs for authoring, editing, burning and playing high-def discs. They're almost certain to end up smelling of roses since all seem to be taking a more realistic (and we think commendable) stance than the main camp followers by offering solutions for Blu-ray Disc and for HD DVD.

Cyberlink
Cyberlink, for instance, yesterday proudly announced that its PowerDVD playback technology for HD DVD is being showcased in conjunction with NEC and Toshiba. Today, it led with the right, giving out news that it is demonstrating a front-to-back consumer Blu-ray Disc solution with HP that features playback with PowerDVD, plus video editing and disc burning from another pair of apps (PowerDirector and Power2Go) - and these two, you can be sure, will also allow editing and burning with HD DVD.

Nero
It's a similar story with Nero. The company's "ultimate" all-in-one digital media suite Nero 7 Ultra Edition is being demonstrated on the HD DVD Promotion Group booth and showcased on the Blu-ray Disc booth. And, of course, both options are being shown on Nero's own stand.

InterVideo/Ulead
Things are much the same with Ulead, one of the best-established brands for consumer video editing and DVD-authoring software. Over on the stand of its new parent company InterVideo, Ulead is showing what it describes as "real-time" straight-to-disc recording of high-def video from HDV camcorders to Blu-ray. It's also concurrently demonstrating how its software can do fancy disc authoring with HD DVD and Blu-ray media.

Roxio/Sonic
However, the outfit which really looks like it's got it made is Sonic - and not just because of its dual membership of the Blu-ray Disc Association and the DVD Forum. The company now has the Roxio brand for the consumer retail market (where its own Sonic brand features largely on bundling deals with burners). It also virtually owns the upmarket pro authoring side, be it software or full-on hardware/software combinations that are used by the authoring houses that serve the Hollywood studios in preparing block-busters movies for mastering.

And Sonic now looks well place to own a big share of the high-def pro-authoring market, too. When it saw the size of the looming debacle over the two competing high-def formats, it took some very positive action, founding two conciliatory - rather than competing - industry groupings. One is the Sonic HD Authoring Alliance - a body that promotes collaboration between and with leading authoring house worldwide. The other is the Sonic HDAA Advisory Group - a collection of consumer electronic makers "committed to working with authoring houses to make future formats a success". The two bodies seem to have relied heavily on one another to push forward the development of hi-def DVD, such that the launches of Blu-Ray Disc and HD DVD would have been even further behind schedule than at present without this mutual co-operation.

Sonic, sitting right in the middle, was able to claim as far back at the NAB 2005 show to have developed the world’s first authoring systems for Blu-ray Disc and for HD DVD. In autumn, at IBC 2005, it had moved on by claiming to have produced the world’s first advanced-content authoring system - the new hi-def formats offer far more interactivity natively than does DVD Video - and the world’s first advanced-content playback system.

At 2006 CES, some of the results of Sonic's claimed technology market leadership are starting to become visible, most notably Technicolor's adoption of the company's Scenarist HD DVD Edition and Scenarist Blu-ray Edition high-definition authoring workstations for the production of the "world's first advanced interactive Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD titles" - titles that are being used around the show to demonstrate the high level of interactivity possible with each of the new formats.

A little surprisingly, Sonic has made no announcement at CES about support for the new hi-def disc formats being added to its recently-launched Roxio Easy Media Creator 8 Suite - nor does it look to have any statement planned. However, there can't be a company in the world better-placed to know when such new capabilities will be required by consumers - or to engineer them - so we've little doubt that they'll be turning up in plenty of time to meet any demand that arises when high-def burning hardware does finally arrive in volume.

HEXUS.links

HEXUS.CES :: main page

Cyberlink :: HD DVD

Cyberlink :: Blu-ray Disc

InterVideo/Ulead :: Ulead HD DVD & Blu-Ray Disc

Nero :: Nero 7 background

Nero :: Nero HD DVD

Nero :: Nero Blu-ray Disc

Roxio :: Easy Media Creator 8 background

Sonic :: Scenarist adopted by Technicolor




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