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HD DVD is a high definition DVD format developed by Toshiba and NEC, and is in competition with Sony's rival Blu-ray format. Please refer to The High Definition DVD FAQ for more information on HD DVD, and The Blu-ray and HD DVD Buyer's Guide for more practical advice on HD DVD shopping.

On 19 February 2008, Toshiba announced the end of support for the HD DVD format, thus ensuring Blu-ray will be the victorious format in the Western HD format war.


Why choose HD DVD?

Here is a (somewhat subjective) list of reason why one might choose to support HD DVD(please note that due to HD DVD's capitulation in the HD format war, choosing Blu-ray is now the only choice available):

  • Has the cheapest hardware
  • Has the support of IT heavyweights such as Microsoft, Intel and HP
  • The Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive is the cheapest way to get both HD DVD playback for your Xbox 360 and for your PC (assuming you have the hardware to support it)
  • HD DVD/DVD combo discs: buy one for DVD now, and use the HD DVD version when you get a HD DVD player in the future
  • No region coding: any disc you buy anywhere in the world will work everywhere
  • Slightly less paranoid about copy protection
  • Specification is finalized, unlike Blu-ray, which means the hardware you buy now will be futureproof. For example, the HD DVD version of the movie "300" has more features than the Blu-ray version due to the format's finalized specs (Internet connection, picture-in-picture)
  • Hardware profiles are better defined making it easier to studios to develope advanced content
  • Each layer on a HD DVD disc holds 10 GB less the Blu-ray equivalent, making more sensible layer sizes of 15, 30, 45 GB, rather than the "larger than required" sizes of 25, 50 and 75 GB

Why not choose HD DVD?

Here is a list of reasons why you might not want to support Blu-ray (please note that due to HD DVD's capitulation in the HD format war, choosing Blu-ray is now the only choice available):

  • Has less titles available exclusively to the format, although still a formidable lineup of studios: Paramount, DreamWorks, Universal, Warner Bros. (Warner's support for HD DVD will end in May 2008)
  • HD DVD/DVD combo discs: more expensive, and unnecessary if you only want the HD DVD version
  • Does not have the support of Apple and Dell, two of the biggest PC manufacturers
  • Does not have the support for large electronic firms such as Pioneer, Panasonic and of course, Sony

Industry Backers

Due to HD DVD's capitulation in the HD format war, technically all companies are now backers of Blu-ray. The list below, thus, is retained here for legacy purposes to provide information on the original backers of Blu-ray prior to Toshiba's announcement to withdraw from HD DVD development.

These backers back the HD DVD format exclusively in the HD format war, meaning they will not support Blu-ray in terms of software or hardware:

  • Toshiba
  • Microsoft
  • NEC
  • Intel
  • HP
  • Sanyo
  • RCA
  • Kenwood

There are also supporters of HD DVD that also support Blu-ray, and they include Hitachi Maxell, LG, Lite On, Onkyo, Meridan, Samsung, and Alpine.

Movie Studio Backers

See the comprehensive listing at High Definition Studios

Gaming Support

Microsoft's Xbox 360 can be upgraded to playback HD DVD movies by purchasing the HD DVD add-on drive (which also doubles as a HD DVD-ROM drive for the PC). Currently, the HD DVD add-on drive is the most sold accessory for the Xbox 360.

Hardware Profiles

HD DVD has two hardware profiles, or more accurately described as "Performance Levels".

Performance Level 1, the level that is used by all early HD DVD players, makes connection to additional/external Persistent Storage optional, as well as 5.1 audio decoding for all mandatory audio codecs. 24p video output is also optional.

Performance Level 2 simply makes all the optional specifications of PL1 mandatory.

Table of HD DVD performance levels
Performance Level 1 Performance Level 2



Secondary Video Decoder



Secondary Audio Decoder



Persistent Storage (minimum)

128 MB

128 MB

Network Connectivity



Additional/External Persistent Storage



5.1 Ch. Output for all mandatory audio codecs



24p Output



Technical Details

HD DVD Specifications
Laser Type: Blue-violet laser
Laser Wavelength: 405nm
Track Pitch: 0.40µm (HD DVD-ROM, DVD-R)
0.34µm (HD DVD-Rewritable)
Read Power: 0.50mW
Disc size: 120mm
    Single Layer: 15GB
    Dual Layer: 30GB
    Triple Layer: 45GB
Transfer Rate: 1x => 36.55 Mbps
Video Resolution: 1080i (1920x1080 HD, 50i, 60i)
1080p (1920x1080 HD, 24p)
720p (1280x720, 50p, 60p, 24p)
SD (720x576/480, 50i, 60i)
Video Compression: MPEG-2
Microsoft VC-1
Audio Resolution/Compression: Dolby Digital AC3
Linear PCM (uncompressed)
Dolby Digital Plus (DD+)
Dolby TrueHD (lossless)
Optional: DTS-HD High Resolution Audio
Optional: DTS-HD Master Audio (lossless)
Copy Protection AACS
File System: DF 2.6

See Also

External Link