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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.


Why choose HD DVD?

Here is a (somewhat subjective) list of reason why one might choose to support HD DVD:

  • 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)
  • 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:

  • Has less titles available exclusively to the format, although still a formidable lineup of studios: Paramount, DreamWorks, Universal, Warner Bros. (favors HD DVD and has some HD DVD exclusive titles, but also supports Blu-ray)
  • 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

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

Several movie studios offer exclusive support to HD DVD, meaning they will not release any movies on Blu-ray:

  • Bang Bros (Adult)
  • ClubJenna (Adult)
  • Digital Playground (Adult)
  • Dimension Home Video
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • DreamWorks Pictures
  • First Look Home Entertainment
  • Focus Film Entertainment
  • Genius Products
  • MTV Films
  • Nickelodeon Movies
  • Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Pink Visual (Adult)
  • PolyGram Entertainment
  • Rogue Pictures
  • Universal Pictures Home Video
  • Weinstein Company
  • Wicked Pictures (Adult)

There are also several studios that offer backing to both HD formats, and they include:

  • Brentwood
  • Discovery Channel
  • Goldhil
  • HBO
  • Image Entertainment
  • Koch Releasing
  • Magnolia Home Entertainment
  • New Line Home Entertainment
  • Ryko Distribution
  • Studio Canal
  • Vivid (Adult)
  • Warner Brothers/Group

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 my 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 Plus (DD+)
MLP 2-Channel
DTS-HD Lossless (optional)
Copy Protection AACS
File System: DF 2.6

See Also

External Link