the world of home entertainment continues to narrow the gap between, if it
has not already surpassed, the in-theatre movie experience and the home
theatre experience, those who demand the very best in both picture and
sound quality are now beginning to move over from DVD technology to high
definition disc technologies.
Battle of the HD Titans
The two HD titans battling it out currently is the HD
DVD and Blu-Ray. Those paying any attention to consumer electronics
know that there has been another intense battle for the crown of becoming
"the" HD format for the masses. Thus far both camps have made
temporary claims as "winner of the format war" but, in fact, the battle
seems far from over. While the HD-DVD camp got out to an impressive
lead especially with the launch of Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on, the
Blu-Ray camp has made a huge comeback since quarter 4 of 2006...and now,
according to some, is firmly in the lead. Still, with releases such
as THE MATRIX TRILOGY and the PLANET EARTH series, HD-DVD is far from
The SOUND of Perfect
Of course the main focus on HD has been and is on the
video quality. If you are one who has spent any time watching HD
programming or discs on HD qualified hardware, then you probably know that
standard definition is now on the endangered technologies list. As
impressive as the visuals are (some 5 times greater than standard
television), the new formats provide much more. For us who listen to
our films as much as we watch them, both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray offer a
significant boost in sound quality as well. Toshiba's HD-DVD slogan
is, afterall, "The Look and SOUND of Perfect."
Dolby Sound and HD
Two of the more common audio standards come from the
famous labs of Dolby. You will find most HD-DVDs or
encoded with either Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus. TrueHD
boasts 100% lossless sound that is said to rival the original sound of the
studio masters. Digital Plus moves past the sound quality of the DVD
but is not "lossless." Both formats are available in 7.1 surround.
DTS and HD
Dolby's main competition remains DTS. Of
course, DTS has released its own new HD audio formats alongside Dolby:
DTS HD: Master Audio and DTS HD: High Resolution Audio. Like Dolby's
offerings both of these DTS
formats provide 7.1 channels of audio. The DTS' Master Audio is akin to Dolby's True HD.
So which do you buy?
One question you should ask yourself is, "Do I love sound or do I love
extras more?" It seems that the HD-DVD camp has chosen to focus
on extras and the Blu-Ray camp on audio. Blu-Ray and its
employment of the DTS HD codecs currently nudge out HD-DVD and Dolby.
Of course, there are numerous additional factors to consider in making
your choice of which format to adopt. It is possible that you
won't even have to make a choice as there are already plans for
HD-DVD/Blu-Ray combo discs and players alike!
Like all new technologies, the cost of entering early is a little high
and prices will likely continue to fall. For the film/audiophile
however, once you've been exposed to the visual and audio treats of
this high definition era, it's truly difficult to go back.