Pioneer shows off giant-capacity 400GB optical disc

via DVICE by Charlie White on 12/2/08

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Amid all the talk of online video downloading and streaming, the optical disks still get bigger. Pioneer’s future-looking roadmap now boasts of a 400GB optical disc, spread out on 16 layers and read by a head that’s almost the same as those on Blu-ray drives. Read-only versions of these monster discs will arrive soon and then in 2010 there will be re-writable versions. There are even bigger plans on the horizon, with 1TB discs debuting in 2013.

This sounds like that capacity battle that was raging back when Blu-ray and the late HD DVD were locking horns, when last we heard, the top experimental capacity of Blu-ray hit 250GB in 2007. But isn’t all this becoming a moot point? With hard disc prices hitting next to nothing, flash drive costs plummeting and online bandwidth skyrocketing, it’s looking like optical disc’s days are numbered.

However, there will still be a need for long-term archival storage. Perhaps that’s where Pioneer’s projected 1TB optical drive will be welcomed in 2013. Unless, of course, someone figures out a better way to store data for centuries by then. Five years is a long time — there could be a whole new way to store data by then.

Update: Pioneer says these 400GB discs are compatible with Blu-ray readers now on the market.

DigiTimes, via Ubergizmo

Microsoft axes Xbox HD-DVD drive. As if you didn’t see that one coming

via DVICE by Michael Trei on 2/24/08

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With everyone picking their moment to jump from the HD-DVD ship following Toshiba’s decision to discontinue the format. It was only a matter of time before giant Microsoft would have to bite the bullet and axe the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive. The news finally came in a written statement Saturday, presumably timed to make as few waves as possible. Microsoft sold an estimated 300,000 drives, but they were normally not included in the format’s sales figures which counted only stand alone players.

Associated Press, via CNET News

Toshiba Kills HD-DVD

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Toshiba announced Tuesday that it will no longer manufacture HD DVD hardware. From its press release:

“Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however, to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.”

Gizmodo’s man in Japan, Ichiroo, reported that the press release was “in the wild” before the company’s press conference had even begun.

The BBC has its version up. So does Bloomberg and the AFP.

There’s no nonsense, no big show, no morbid preliminaries: just the final truth in black and white, seemingly pre-empting its own schedule of events. Perhaps some still wondered if it would be too “proud” to act quickly, and would somehow drag it out for days, or even weeks.

Even the AP works this thought into its coverage, saying that the format’s demise is a “possible blow to Toshiba’s pride,” as if the corporation itself—or even the very technology—has emotions. But really, isn’t it all just business?

Toshiba Kills HD DVD, Official [Gizmodo]

Tokyo—Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however, to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.

HD DVD was developed to offer consumers access at an affordable price to high-quality, high definition content and prepare them for the digital convergence of tomorrow where the fusion of consumer electronics and IT will continue to progress.

“We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called ‘next-generation format war’ and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation. “While we are disappointed for the company and more importantly, for the consumer, the real mass market opportunity for high definition content remains untapped and Toshiba is both able and determined to use our talent, technology and intellectual property to make digital convergence a reality.”

Toshiba will continue to lead innovation, in a wide range of technologies that will drive mass market access to high definition content. These include high capacity NAND flash memory, small form factor hard disk drives, next generation CPUs, visual processing, and wireless and encryption technologies. The company expects to make forthcoming announcements around strategic progress in these convergence technologies.

Toshiba will begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD DVD disk drives for such applications as PCs and games in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts to meet customer requirements. The company will continue to assess the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives within the overall PC business relative to future market demand.

This decision will not impact on Toshiba’s commitment to standard DVD, and the company will continue to market conventional DVD players and recorders. Toshiba intends to continue to contribute to the development of the DVD industry, as a member of the DVD Forum, an international organization with some 200 member companies, committed to the discussion and defining of optimum optical disc formats for the consumer and the related industries.

Toshiba also intends to maintain collaborative relations with the companies who joined with Toshiba in working to build up the HD DVD market, including Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation and major Japanese and European content providers on the entertainment side, as well as leaders in the IT industry, including Microsoft, Intel, and HP. Toshiba will study possible collaboration with these companies for future business opportunities, utilizing the many assets generated through the development of HD DVD.

Stick a fork in HD DVD it’s done

According to Engadget, sources from across the globe are confirming earlier reports that Toshiba would be bowing out of the optical disc format war, but it will happen sooner than we originally heard. Reuters and the NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) claim to have inside sources that confirm that Toshiba is officially retiring the HD DVD format as soon as possible and will be shutting down its DVD factories in Aomori Prefecture located in northern Japan. The shutdown will reportedly cost Toshiba hundreds of millions of dollars.

The death spiral of HD DVD seemed to have been kick started in June 2007, when the corporate rental giant Blockbuster said they would only carry Blu-ray within it’s retail locations. Then in early January 2008, Warner Bros. confirmed they would drop HD DVD in favor of the Sony backed – but not owned – Blu-ray format. Earlier this week HD DVD was knocked to the ground and repeatedly kicked as Netflix and Wal-Mart chose to support Blu in this completely ridiculous interesting format war.

While we wait for official word Stateside from Toshiba it certainly looks like this format war is completely done-zos.

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Microsoft Still Isn’t Going Blu-ray, Really [Notable Quotable]

via Gizmodo by matt buchanan on 1/28/08

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1UP posted an interview from CES with Jeff Bell, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Global Marketing for Interactive Entertainment, in which he mentions that Microsoft has “been talking to Blu-ray all along because we have the best piece of software in the business, called HDi. It is the backbone that powers interactivity in HD-DVD and we have that available to potentially partner with others.” The natural specu-reaction is that Microsoft/Blu-ray is on. Well, it’s not.

If you remember way back to the beginning of January—the same time as 1UP’s interview with Jeff Bell—Microsoft’s Albert Pennello made a similar hedge, that they could consider going Blu-ray, if the planets aligned, the sun died and Sony-branded unicorns blotted out the sky. He then came back to us to spell out in (almost) more ways than we could count that Microsoft is totally not going Blu-ray.

HD DVD isn’t dead until Toshiba says it is, and even then, we wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft took its sweet time coming around to the other format, intentionally or otherwise.

[1UP]

Blu-ray destroying HD DVD in sales; consider the war over

via DVICE by Adam Frucci on 1/22/08

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I hate to break it to you early adopters who gambled on HD DVD as your choice in the HD disc format war, but it looks like Blu-ray won. After Warner Bros announced that it was going exclusively with Blu-ray, everyone pretty much decided that the war was over, and it looks like consumers listened.

That’s because in the week after Warner’s announcement, it looks like almost 93% of all HD players sold were of the Blu-ray variety. It doesn’t get much more lopsided than that. So if you’ve been waiting for a clear sign that it’s safe to jump in on the side of Blu-ray, it doesn’t get much clearer than this. Consider the format war, at long last, over.

Via Electronista

Remote Disc: no movie playback, no HD support, and everything else you need to know

via Engadget by Ryan Block on 1/24/08

One of the more more interesting, albeit minor, announcements at Macworld was Remote Disc, Apple’s method to undermine the need to bundle an optical drive with the Air. To our chagrin, Apple also undermined the ability to do much fun or useful with the disc sharing system. Here’s what you need to know about Remote Disc, top to bottom:

  • The Remote Disc installer is 42.3MB for Mac, and takes almost 86MB of space! AND it requires a restart of the host Mac. (Windows, ironically, does not require a restart to begin sharing media.)
  • You have to ask permission to use the drive every single time, there’s no client whitelist or anything like that. Even if you’ve already asked permission on that drive and disc, if you stop using it and come back to it, you have to ask permission again.
  • Every time you ask permission as a Remote Disc client, the host gets a popup asking if it’s cool to share your drive. You can, of course, accept or decline (but the only way to stop getting prompts is to turn off disc sharing).
  • Ejecting the disc on the client side does not eject it on the host side.
  • Ejecting it on the host side, however, gives a host-side prompt about the disc being in use. You can override and eject, however.
  • To reinstall or boot from CD using Remote Disc, the host must use the installed Remote Install Mac OS X application. It’s a fairly simple process, but sharing an install CD over a wireless network is asking for trouble. It took an absurd amount of time (nearly 10 minutes) to boot over 802.11g. You need bandwidth.
  • To remote boot from a shared CD, hold the option key while starting up. You’ll be presented with a BIOS-level WiFi / network selection that looks surprisingly unpolished for Apple (but works with WPA and advanced WiFi crypto all the same)

Bummer for media:

  • You can browse the file contents of DVD discs, but you cannot actually play that media back over the network.
  • You can’t rip DVDs over the network using a tool like Handbrake.
  • You can’t even browse a music CD or listen to tracks. Don’t even think about burning a disc remotely.
  • Remote Disc appears only to be able to share CD / DVD drives and CD / DVD discs, not high capacity / HD optical drives.
  • We tested sharing a regular DVD over an HD DVD drive, no luck. Data CDs on DVD drives worked fine though.

We’ve heard of some client firewalls harshing on Remote Disc, but we didn’t see any issues when testing. Despite its shortcomings, it did work exactly as advertised, and with zero fuss. We miss anything?

Gallery: Remote Disc: install and host side disc sharing

Gallery: Remote Disc: client side disc sharing

Gallery: Remote Disc: shared remote install, host and client