Today I continued to wander the Colorado Convention Center at C.E.D.I.A., in hopes of getting some insight into trends and developments. As we all know, LCD TV is now the driving force of the digital TV business, and this is expected to continue for the next several years at the expense of plasma displays and rear projection microdisplays. Even though displays with a resolution of 720p are still the most popular with consumers, displays with 1080p resolution are taking hold. Front projection TV continues to grow in popularity as more and more people want the home theater experience. In fact, I've seen several excellent examples of front projectors. I was especially taken by a new model from Samsung (SP-A800) that uses 1-chip 1080p DLP technology. JVC also introduced two new D-ILA models that displayed terrific images.
For the past couple of days, I've talked about the latest Format War between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Well, today I received a briefing on the third HD format " HDVMD from a company called NME. I met with Dr. Eugene Levich and his staff, who hopes to bring this inexpensive high-definition optical disc player to market sometime in the 4th quarter. According to Dr. Levich, this is the first optical disc format the be designed and created in the U.S. It will be manufactured in China. HD-VMD is a red laser format that is essentially an outgrowth of Microsoft's WM9 that was available a few years ago. At the time, you could only playback WM9 movie titles on a Windows Media Center with a lot of RAM and a fast clock speed. At the time, only a handful of titles were produced including Terminator 2.
According to NME, which stands for New Media Enterprises, the basis of the HD VMD system is the use of multi-layer disc technology, and the red laser. Currently, the HD VMD discs include 6 layers of 5GB each for a total storage capacity of 30GB, which the company believes will hold a 3-1/2-hour HD movie. Reportedly, at launch, there will be 3,000 titles globally. Although, it should be noted that the majority of these titles will be from European, Indian, and Asian home video companies. Reportedly, NME is close to announcing a U.S. home video company, who will produce titles in the HD VMD format.
At launch, there will be two players: one at $169, and a step-up at $189. The more expensive model will include a USB drive, and a media card reader. A robust copy-protection scheme will be employed from OptiKey. Initially, the HD VMD players will be available at amazon.com, and pcrush.com. As well, the players are expected to be sold at Radio Shack and Cosco.
While this is an interesting proposition, I can't really see how it can fly being up against major CE brands and the movie studios. If anything, HD VMD can only cause more confusion on the part of the consumer. And, it there's enough confusion, the consumer will simply stick with a good quality upconverted DVD player.