The SpannerWorks
Home Theatre and DVD Technology

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Site last updated September 15, 2009. 10:07           
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  :: Introduction ::

The SpannerWorks is a home theatre and DVD technology information resource. We also provide, to a lesser extent, information about technologies used to present film theatrically.

Time permitting, I (Adam Barratt, owner and administrator of this site) also write DVD reviews of Region 4 discs (Australia and New Zealand) and the occasional article on DVD technology, with an emphasis on audio. I have also included a selection of links to online resources I've found useful over the years. These should provide an introduction to those seeking information about emerging home theatre digital technologies. Feel free to if you have any comments, questions or suggestions to make regarding this site or its content.

  :: News ::

August 30
, 2008. 10:37am


For at least the last five years Sanyo and Panasonic have been in pitched battle for supremacy in the mid-level LCD projector market. The impressive (and expensive) Panasonic PT-AE2000U and Sanyo PLV-Z2000 1080p models have been the companies' most recent champions in this battle, but Sanyo has decided to stir things up a bit with the PLV-Z700. The Z700 offers premium 1080p resolution (although unfortunately using organic panels, unlike its bigger brother), 10:000:1 contrast and 1200 ANSI Lumens for the decidedly entry-level price of US$1995. I'm sure Panasonic (and possibly Sony) will have a suitable response at this year's CEDIA, but it looks like 2009 may be the year 1080p finally starts appearing on more affordably-priced machines, with Sanyo leading the way.

August 30, 2008. 10:37am


Do you own a Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray player (the European/Australasian equivalent of the BDP-95HD)? Is it region-free for DVD? If you do, and it isn't, click here (54MB) to download a region-free version of firmware version 3.25 (for details on how to burn an ISO to CD-ROM, read the 'instructions' section on this page). I've tried this update myself and it works great, even with those pesky RCE discs from Sony and Fox. Enjoy! And no, before you ask, sadly this is region-free for DVD only, not Blu-ray.

August 28, 2008. 7:40pm

Despite Toshiba's loss in the HD DVD/Blu-ray war, it doesn't look like the company is in any rush to produce a Blu-ray deck of its own (although it continues to develop the drives in partnership with Samsung through their Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corp. joint venture). Toshiba will instead move forward with the 'XDE' line of upscaling DVD players, which promises 'near HD' quality from standard 480p DVD. Now, I have nothing against upscaling devices, and there's no doubt that Toshiba's HD DVD players were especially good at the job (especially the REON-equipped models), but this seems like a distinctly backward move to me. The first XDE model, the XDE-500, will be available this month for US$150. 

August 24, 2008. 1:26am


Panasonic has announced the DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 Blu-ray replacements for the current (and highly regarded) BD30 and BD50 models. The BD30 and BD50 have been on the market for less than six months, making this one of the fastest new model rollouts I've seen. The new machines will feature updated UniPhier video processors and the now-standard HDMI 1.3 and Profile 2.0 capabilities. The BD55 will add to the feature list with onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding together with 7.1-channel analogue outputs (a feature that appeared on the BD10 but mysteriously vanished from the BD50) and 'audiophile' sound quality. Prices and availability have yet to be announced.

April 17, 2008. 6:43pm

In news that will lead to much dancing and rejoicing, Sony has released firmware 2.30 for the Playstation 3 games console. This update adds the long-awaited ability to internally decode DTS-HD MA audio to PCM via the unit's HDMI outputs. PS3 owners will finally be able to hear Fox's Blu-ray titles in their full glory. The update is available now, so rush on over to your PS3 and check it out (go on, you know you want to!).

February 19, 2008. 8:20am


After looming ever larger on the horizon, Toshiba has finally called it quits and announced that it will stop producing and developing HD DVD technology. Warner Brothers' recent decision to stop releasing HD DVD titles was the final decisive blow in the format war, and one that the format couldn't realistically recover from. Following Toshiba's announcement Universal and Paramount are expected to announce plans within days to move to the Blu-ray format. All in all, this was a surprisingly short war (especially compared to the protracted wrangling over Betamax/VHS) but now the war is over, we can look forward to a single format future. Hopefully this news will motivate Blu-ray's bigger hardware supporters to finally do something about the lack of BD-Live/Profile 2.0 machines and the current crop of players' high street prices.

June 3, 2006. 10:42am


Sony has announced the future availability of the HD optimised STR-DG1000 receiver. The model will support up to 7.1-channels of uncompressed audio and 1080p switching via HDMI, making it an ideal companion for HD-DVD and Blu-ray players. The receiver will retail for US$800 when it come on to the market in August.

May 19, 2006. 9:03pm

Pioneer's BDR-101A half-height Blu-ray burner for PCs is now available in the United States and Japan, offering a storage capability of 25GB on single-layer BD-R and BD-RE media. The unassuming dual speed capable (that's 72Mbps) E-IDE device retails for a breathtaking US$1000, while blank discs retail for US$48 (write-once) or US$60 (rewritable). CD-ROM is not supported. Hopefully prices will drop quickly; at $1000, this particular burner makes the notoriously expensive LTO format look like a bargain!

May 10, 2006. 3:54pm


Microsoft has revealed that it will market an external USB HD-DVD drive for its Xbox 360. This isn't an unexpected development, but the implementation seems somewhat peculiar. Given the HDMI or HDCP requirements for full (720p/1080i) HDTV playback using HD-DVD, and the Xbox 360's lack of these features, I'm not sure exactly how users will use these external drives as HDTV sources, or if Microsoft has plans to offer this as a feature.

May 4, 2006. 9:03am

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has delayed the launch of its first wave or Blu-ray titles until such time players become available, anticipated to be in June. The delay was requested by Blu-ray hardware manufacturers alarmed at the prospect of software on the market without players. "The majority of our retail base and hardware partners have requested that we reconsider this date to better coincide with the first commercially available Blu-ray-compatible hardware" stated SPHE's Benjamin Feingold.

April 20, 2006. 1:02pm  

Today marks the release of the first HD-DVD titles from Warner Home Video and Universal. Warner's titles include 'Million Dollar Baby', 'The Last Samurai' and 'The Phantom of the Opera' while Universal has released 'Serenity'. Soundtracks for the Warner Home Video's titles are presented in Dolby Digital Plus at a bit-rate of 640kbps. 'Serenity' includes a 1536kbps Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack, while 'The Phantom of the Opera' also includes a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Video for each title is VC-1 encoded 1080p.

April 18, 2006. 6:47pm


After much delay, HD-DVD has officially launched on the US market with the arrival of Toshiba's HD-A1 on store shelves. The 1080i/720p (although not, unfortunately 1080p compatible) player sells for a very reasonable US$499, which should be a very strong temptation for dedicated home theatre enthusiasts. No reports on the player's performance have yet emerged, but given the youth of the format I imagine at least some teething problems should be expected. Those of you who remember DVD's release will remember the issues first generation players suffered from, and the same should be anticipated with HD-DVD at such an early stage (and Blu-ray for that matter).

Given the limited availability of these players and the uncertainty of restock dates, if you want one I suggest purchasing one sooner rather than later. 

March 24, 2006. 3:34am  

Following just days after Warner Home Video's announced HD-DVD title delays, Toshiba has announced that it will be delaying the release of its first HD-DVD players, the HD-A1 and HD-XA1, until April (or until such time that HD-DVD titles become available). Jodi Sally, Toshiba's  marketing VP, stated that "In order to maximize the launch of HD DVD, we intend to synchronize the launch of our players with HD DVD title releases."

March 18, 2006. 5:15pm  

Warner Home Video has announced the delay of their first wave of HD-DVD titles, blaming technical difficulties. The discs, which include 'The Last Samurai', 'Million Dollar Baby' and 'The Phantom of the Opera', should appear on shelves on April the 18th, three weeks behind their original scheduled release dates. Warner Home Video have also reduced the initial slate of titles they plan to release on the format to 17. In all likelihood, this is a means of improving the quality control process for each title by reducing the total number of titles being processed. Hopefully they will get the kinks sorted out before their ambitious plan to release all new titles on both DVD and HD-DVD come into effect from May this year.

January 10, 2006. 9:21pm


Following a string of impressive Blu-ray hardware displays from other manufacturers at this year's CES convention, hardware manufacturer Pioneer has released details of its first Blu-ray player. The Elite BDP-HD1 will retail for US$1800 and is slated for a May launch. The player will include an HDMI output, 1080P/24 and 1080P/60 support, 1080P/i upconversion of DVD-Video media, support for both 25GB and 50GB Blu-ray media and DTS-HD output (but not internal decoding). Other manufacturers to showcase Blu-ray players at the show have included Mitsubishi, Sony, Philips, Samsung (with their BDP-1000 carrying a RRP of US$1200 and due for release in April, making it possibly the first player available), Hitachi and Sharp.

In related news, the Blu-ray Disc Association has announced that (as of the 5th of January) Blu-ray disc specifications (2.0 for BD-ROM, BD-R and BD-RE) have been finalised, opening the doors for hardware and software manufacturers to begin the licensing process needed prior to product roll-out. 

In software news, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has committed itself to releasing Black Hawk Down and Bridge on the River Kwai on 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray discs, rather than the conventional 25GB single-layer variant. Development of the higher-capacity 50GB disc has been behind schedule, making this announcement of interest. SPHE has also revealed that the Blu-ray releases of The Fifth Element and The Last Waltz will utilise the large capacity of Blu-ray to include uncompressed audio.

Finally, some news that will interest owners of older non-HDCP monitors and projectors. Reports from CES indicate that Blu-ray players are capable of supporting HDTV via component video connection and are not limited to playback of high definition video via HDMI. The decision whether to allow this or not will rest with disc producers and be judged on a disc-by-disc basis.

January 5, 2006. 6:41pm

Hardware manufacturer Toshiba has released details of its first HD-DVD player models destined for the North American market at the annual Las Vegas CES convention. The company's initial line-up will consist of two models: the HD-XA1 (RRP US$799.99) and the HD-A1 (RRP US$499.99), shipping to retailers in March. Both models will be fully backward-compatible with existing DVD-Video and CD (Red Book) media.

The players will incorporate HDMI outputs for unconverted HD video and audio, will be MPEG-2/3, VC-1 and AVC compatible and include digital (via HDMI and/or S/PDIF) and analogue (via internal decoder) output of PCM, Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD audio.

"As a leader in home entertainment and a pioneer in DVD technology, we are very excited to introduce our first HD DVD players for U.S. consumers. With the support of some of the hottest films, we can confidently say that Toshiba's HD DVD players will come to market with important industry backing in time to meet the HDTV transition." - Jodi Sally, Vice President of Marketing, Toshiba America Consumer Products Digital A/V Group.

December 16, 2005. 12:44am


Computer-maker Hewlett-Packard has announced plans to support both HD-DVD and Blu-ray after previously exclusively backing Blu-ray. The move is seen as a backlash against the BDA for its refusal to support iHD. This is good new for HD-DVD, after a string of recent high-profile losses to the Blu-ray camp among Hollywood studios.

Maureen Weber (Hewlett-Packard) had the following to say about the decision: "By joining the HD-DVD Promotions Group and continuing work with the Blu-Ray Disc Association, HP will be in a better position to assess true development costs and, ultimately, provide the best and most affordable solution for consumers."

The decision comes after the BDA's refusal to implement iHD on the Blu-ray format at HP's request. iHD is an XML-based language used to add greater interactivity to the format, and was jointly developed by Microsoft, Disney and the DVD Forum. Blu-ray will instead use the Sun Microsystems-developed Java-based BD-J. Microsoft's next-generation Windows operating system, Vista (formerly Longhorn), will natively support iHD. 

December 2, 2005. 7:38am

Fox Filmed Entertainment (a division of Twentieth Century Fox) has announced that it will exclusively support Blu-ray, and will not release any titles on HD-DVD. Given Blu-ray's strong (some might describe as 'draconian') copy-protection features, and Fox's previously stated position, this is hardly news. Given the statement's timing, shortly after Intel and Microsoft's very public backing of HD-DVD, it is clearly simply a public show of support for Blu-ray. 

October 5, 2005. 9:17pm


Microchip-manufacturer Intel's Home VP, Donald MacDonald, has stated at the annual CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) JAPAN 2005 exhibition that Intel will be pressuring Blu-ray and HD-DVD supporters to develop a unified format. Realistically, this pressure may be coming several months too late given the significant technical changes needed were any hybrid format to be approved, and the closeness of both formats' proposed release dates. Given Intel's support of the HD-DVD format, it is also unlikely to be seen as an unbiased party by backers of Blu-ray.  

September 29, 2005. 9:09am

Microsoft and Intel have jointly announced their support for the HD-DVD format. Microsoft's public support has been anticipated for some time given its implicit support of the format through its Xbox 360 gaming console, but given its VC-1 codec's use on both competing formats (Warner Brothers previously announced their decision to use VC-1 on HD-DVD) it has been careful to delay official statements of support for either side. Microsoft arch-enemy Sun's Java engine will be used by Blu-ray, while HD-DVD will use iHD, developed jointly by Microsoft and the DVD Forum.

September 3, 2005. 1:03pm

Toshiba, the major player behind HD-DVD, has revealed that it is seriously considering pushing the new format's introduction back from late 2005 to early 2006. Under its previous release-schedule, HD-DVD would have had a roughly three-month launch advantage over Blu-ray, potentially giving the format an early foot-hold in the market (and in consumers' minds). If Toshiba fails to release the format this year, this advantage will be lost, and the two formats would instead compete head-to-head in early 2006.

August 23, 2005. 4:35pm

After initial tentative talks in May of this year, the latest round of negotiations carried out between supporters of the HD-DVD (Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo) and Blu-ray (Sony, Matsushita) formats have failed to result in a unified standard. Both parties will now proceed with independent production of their respective formats, despite their admission that a unified format would be better for manufacturers and consumers, and more likely to survive. Those of you who recall the early development of the DVD format may be feeling a little deja vu at this point!  

August 18, 2005. 1:59pm

Lions Gate

Vancouver-based Lions Gate Home Entertainment has announced that it will be releasing titles from its film and television catalogue on the Blu-ray format. Lions Gate acquired Artisan Entertainment in 2003 becoming the largest independent studio with a catalogue of over 8000 titles (including the Trimark Entertainment catalogue, which it acquired in 2000), the second largest of any studio. For home theatre trivia fans, their properties include Terminator 2 which was released by Artisan Entertainment in 2003 as a WMV-HD title, and was also the first title to utilise RSDL (Reverse Spiral Dual Layer) technology on DVD back in 1997.

Lions Gate were the second studio to announce support for the UMD platform used by Sony's PSP after Sony Pictures Entertainment. 

August 1, 2005. 7:20pm

20th Century Fox has finally decided to throw its hat into the ring with an announcement of official software support for the Blu-ray format. 20th Century Fox has long been a member of the BDA (and on the board of directors since October of last year), but has until now been reluctant to announce plans to release its properties on the format. Expect to see a wide variety of 20th Century Fox movies and television shows from next year. 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the Alien series (my favourite movies), so it looks like a Blu-ray player will be joining my household when they become available!

In other news, Microsoft has announced that its upcoming Xbox 360 game console will use the HD-DVD format. Sony had previously announced that the future PlayStation 3 console would use Blu-ray. Neither announcement was or is a surprise given their interests and alignments.

June 7, 2005. 11:04pm

DTS, Inc. has announced that it has officially and legally changed its name from Digital Theater Systems, Inc. to  DTS Inc. The change was approved by stockholder vote on May 19th, 2005. Press release extract follows:

The decision to change the company's name reflects the growing strength of the company's DTS brand and an expansion beyond the "theater" business into new markets and technologies.

"The cinema market represents an important segment of DTS' business, but the scope and breadth of our business today is much broader than when the company was founded," said Jon Kirchner, President and CEO of DTS. "Over the years, DTS has expanded into the consumer electronics, music, pro audio and broadcast markets and consumers and the trade have come to know us by our initials. Going forward, this change will clarify and simplify our corporate messaging and support the continued growth and awareness of the DTS brand."

May 13, 2005. 12:44pm


Hardware manufacturer and HD-DVD co-developer Toshiba has announced plans to develop a 45GB HD-DVD disc in a bid to reduce the capacity divide between HD-DVD and Blu-ray.  The new variant would increase capacity by adding an extra data layer to the usual two, with 15GB capacity per layer.

April 12, 2005. 18:39pm

Software company CyberLink has revealed that upcoming generations of its ubiquitous PowerDVD applications will include Blu-ray playback and recording support. Upcoming software is also expected to support authoring capabilities.

In other news, Warner Brothers has signed an agreement with Microsoft to use the company's VC-1 WMV format on HD-DVD, starting with the titles announced back in January. VC-1 is supported by both HD-DVD and Blu-ray, so this signing is seen as significant and could give the format an edge as it seeks to become the cross-platform standard for both.  

March 10, 2005. 9:18am

Apple has announced at the German CeBIT trade show that it will be joining the growing number of computer hardware manufacturers supporting Blu-Ray as their next-generation data storage format of choice. Previous adopters include heavyweights Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Apple will also be joining the Blu-ray Disc Association board. A brief extract from Apple's announcement follows:

"Apple is pleased to join the Blu-ray Disc Association board as part of our efforts to drive consumer adoption of HD," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "Consumers are already creating stunning HD content with Apple's leading video editing applications like iMovie HD and are anxiously awaiting a way to burn their own high def DVDs."

Considering the format's huge storage capacity when compared with HD-DVD, this does not come as a surprise. Undoubtedly more computer and related peripheral manufacturers will be throwing their support behind Blu-ray in the near future, although Hollywood support is still as uncertain as it has been up to this point.

February 15, 2005. 11:57am


The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) surpassed a milestone today as its membership grew beyond 100 companies. "What's most remarkable about the growing support for Blu-ray is not just its sheer volume, but its breadth." said Brian Zucker of Dell Inc.'s Client Product Group. Established in October of last year, the BDA has rapidly gained the support of leaders from the computer, consumer electronics, video gaming, optical media, disc replication, authoring and content industries. All of these industries are critical to the successful development and launch of a high-definition optical format. Among the most recent companies to join the BDA are Toho Co., Ltd and Toei Video Company, Ltd., which are the two leading movie studios in Japan. Toho Co., Ltd. is a leading production house and distributor of movies in Japan. Toei Video is known for its production of movies, sales of DVDs as well as other packaged media. Toei Video generates a steady stream of release titles from its diversified parent company Toei Co., Ltd. that includes Japanese films, animation and independent films.

[ Source: ]

For those of you wondering, the BDA's Board of Directors currently consists of the following companies:

  • Dell Inc.
  • Hewlett Packard Company
  • Hitachi, Ltd.
  • LG Electronics Inc.
  • Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
  • Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
  • Pioneer Corporation
  • Royal Philips Electronics
  • Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
  • Sharp Corporation
  • Sony Corporation
  • TDK Corporation
  • Thomson Multimedia
  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • Walt Disney Pictures

Blu-ray discs have a data capacity of 23.3GB, 25GB or 27GB on single-layer discs, and 46.6GB, 50GB or 54GB on dual-layer discs (multi-layer discs with capacities up to 200GB are also planned for the future). Blu-ray's supported video formats include MPEG-4 AVC (H.264), MPEG-2 and VC-1 up to 30fps/1080P. Supported audio formats include PCM, Dolby Digital and DTS-HD. Columbia TriStar (including MGM/UA) and Walt Disney Pictures have officially committed to releasing on Blu-ray, but have yet to announce any titles. Twentieth Century Fox, although on the BDA Board of Directors has yet to commit to releasing titles.

February 5, 2005. 7:19pm

Paramount has revealed the sell-through price bracket of its first wave of HD-DVDs: US$19-29. That's US$5-10 more than an equivalent DVD-Video. Once retailer discounts are accounted for, buyers can expect to have these HD-DVDs in their hands for only a few dollars more than a new-release DVD. Going by past form, Warner Brothers may price their titles slightly lower, possibly even matching their DVD prices.

February 1, 2005. 6:35pm


The first wave of HD-DVDs were recently announced at the annual CES convention. Warner Bros, New Line, HBO, Paramount and Universal will be releasing their first wave during the fourth quarter of 2005 (Universal in early 2006). Titles announced are:

Warner Bros/New Line/HBO:

  • Above the Law
  • Alexander
  • Angels in America (HBO)
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (New Line)
  • Batman Begins
  • Blade (New Line)
  • Catwoman
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Constantine
  • Contact
  • Dark City (New Line)
  • The Dukes of Hazzard
  • Eraser
  • Executive Decision
  • Final Destination (New Line)
  • Friday (New Line)
  • From the Earth to the Moon (HBO)
  • The Fugitive
  • Gothika
  • Hard to Kill
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • House of Wax (2005)
  • The Last Samurai
  • The Mask (New Line)
  • The Matrix
  • The Matrix Reloaded
  • The Matrix Revolutions
  • Maverick
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • The Music Man
  • Mystic River
  • Next of Kin
  • North by Northwest
  • Ocean's Eleven
  • Ocean's Twelve
  • Passenger 57
  • The Perfect Storm
  • The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
  • The Player (New Line)
  • The Polar Express
  • Red Plant
  • Rush Hour (New Line)
  • Seven (New Line)
  • Soldier
  • The Sopranos (HBO)
  • Spawn (New Line)
  • Swordfish
  • Troy
  • Under Siege
  • U.S. Marshals
  • Wild Wild West


  • The Manchurian Candidate
  • Spongebob Squarepants
  • Elizabethtown
  • Coach Carter
  • Italian Job
  • School of Rock
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  • Forrest Gump
  • Braveheart
  • Ghost
  • Grease
  • Mission Impossible 2
  • Black Rain
  • Save the Last Dance
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • U2 Rattle and Hum
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • We Were Soldiers


  • The Bourne Supremacy
  • The Chronicles of Riddick
  • Van Helsing
  • Apollo 13
  • U-571
  • 12 Monkeys
  • Dune
  • The Thing
  • End of Days
  • Backdraft
  • Waterworld
  • The Bone Collector
  • Spy Game
  • Pitch Black
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Dante's Peak

No real surprises. Mostly blockbuster titles, with the re-appearance of more than a few titles used for the launch of DVD in 1997. It is interesting to note, however, the absence of the Warner/New Line stable's crown jewels: the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The presence of four Steven Seagal titles doesn't really make up for their absence, in my opinion (YMMV). It looks like The Mask may show on HD-DVD before the long-awaited anamorphic DVD is (finally) released. I'm a little curious to see how From the Earth to the Moon will be presented, considering the mini-series was shot in 4:3. Pan and scan may haunt us, even in the HD age.

If you can't wait nine months (or so) until the first HD-DVD titles are released, and you have a recent computer (P4 2.8GHz+ or AMD XP 3000+ with 512MB RAM and a 128MB graphics card), you could try a WMV HD DVD. These are 720p titles presented in WMV9 at 8.2Mbps and WMA Pro 5.1 at 440kbps. DRM is on-disc, so there's no need to mess around with proxy Internet connections (as many outside the US were forced to do with the T2: EE 1080p DVD), although you will need a copy of Windows Media Player 9 or 10. If you get your mits on the Underworld WMV DVD, you may eventually have the opportunity to compare the same movie on WMV DVD and Blu-ray; likely to be a rarity in the future.

If you're the stingy type and don't want to hand over any money for your HD fix, there are always the free downloads from Microsoft (if you don't mind downloading clips that average 50MB/minute of footage). There are also several IMAX WMV titles available to tide you over until the arrival of HD. 

January 14, 2005. 11:18pm

Dolby Laboratories has demonstrated its new Dolby Digital Plus audio system at CES. The new format supports bitrates up to 6Mbps (as compared to Dolby Digital's 640kbps limit; restricted to 448kbps on DVD-Video) and eight or more discrete audio channels (compared with Dolby Digital's six). Because of the format's bandwidth requirements, which exceed the capabilities of S/PDIF, Dolby Digital Plus will be transported via HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface).

Like DTS-HD, Dolby Digital Plus will be fully compatible with legacy decoders (the Dolby Digital Plus signal will be convertible to 640kbps Dolby Digital by playback devices for output to S/PDIF-equipped external decoders). Channels will, naturally, be restricted to six when using a legacy decoder.

Dolby Digital Plus has been accepted as a mandatory audio format for HD-DVD, but not Blu-ray. Blu-ray mandates the use of Dolby Digital classic, however.

November 2, 2004. 1:35pm


DTS has officially announced the new name of its next-generation audio platform: DTS-HD (formerly DTS++). DTS-HD incorporates the existing core and core+extension schemes currently available (DTS Digital Surround, DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 and DTS 96/24) under one moniker. DTS-HD also encompasses high-bitrate variants, well above DVD-Video's 1509kbps cap, for use on the upcoming optical HD platforms. These bitrates will allow for lossless encoding and additional audio channels in the future. Because DTS-HD still relies on the Coherent Acoustics core, all variants carrying the DTS-HD will be fully compatible with legacy DTS decoders.

DTS is a mandatory audio format for both HD-DVD and Blu-ray (meaning that players must support the format, not that every disc must carry a DTS soundtrack), and DTS-HD optional for both. DTS-HD is currently the only lossless format supported by Blu-ray, which gives DTS a distinct advantage as the only lossless system supported by both Blu-ray and HD-DVD (MLP is only planned for use on HD-DVD at the moment).


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  :: Links ::


My first recommended site is the Home Theater Forum. The HTF is a great site, with a very friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable members.
I also highly recommend The DVD FAQ, DVD File, and The Digital Bits. The DVD FAQ is the Internet's definitive DVD information source; if you can't find what you're looking for there, you probably won't find it anywhere.

DVD File and The Digital Bits are two of the best on-line DVD information sites, packed with reviews and information about upcoming releases. Other home theatre/DVD sites you might want to investigate include:




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