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About a week or two ago I wrote about the next generation of DVD, which will probably be called HD-DVD (high definition DVD). If you recall, I wrote that there are several formats competing to be the next standard for HD-DVD. An association - the "DVD Forum" - was formed to agree on the format that will get the support of the movie industry when it is time to release movies on pre-recorded discs in high definition. This agreement is meant to avoid any "format-war" that would lead to consumer confusion.

There are three formats with several companies backing each format. Consider how much money these companies have dumped into research, and then consider the royalties that will be paid to whoever patented the approved format, and you will then realize the crital nature of the DVD Forum's seal of approval.

It looked like the "Blue-Ray Disc" was a shoe-in because of how many companies took part in developing it, including Sony. However, in a surprising turn of events, it was just announced that the DVD Forum voted to approve Toshiba and NEC's AOD (Advanced Optical Disc) technology.

If things go as planned, this means Toshiba and NEC will soon begin working with the movie studios with the goal of releasing movies in high definition on pre-recorded discs. Industry experts are predicting a possible launch of players and pre-recorded movies in late 2005.

It is not clear if the movies will be marketed as "AODs" or the more generic "HD-DVDs". In my opinion, marketing these discs as "HD-DVDs" is by far the best way to go. The discs will look and operate like DVDs, but the movies stored on them will be in high-definition due to the much larger storage capacity. Also, the players will be backwards compatible to play today's DVDs. Consumers are also getting hip to the "HD" (high definition) designation. Therefore, consumers will recognize "HD-DVDs" as a step up from today's DVDs.

It is important to note that you will probably still see Sony's Blue-Ray discs and players/recorders. The DVD Forum's vote does not prohibit manufacturers from releasing their formats for other purposes, such as computer data storage and the recording of high-definition broadcasts.

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