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Can HD-VMD Rival Blu-ray And HD DVD?

By Sarah Falson | Tuesday | 25/09/2007

US-based publicly-listed home entertainment manufacturer New Medium Enterprises (NME) has entered the Australian market with a High-Definition Versatile Multilayer Disc (HD-VMD) player and media which it believes has the capacity (pardon the pun) to rival the Blu-ray and HD DVD high definition disc formats, in part due to its extraordinarily low selling price.

Westan Digital will distribute the products locally as well as in New Zealand and Asia, bringing "an affordable true HD packaged media solution to consumers across the region," according to the company.

Icon Film Distribution is also getting in on the act with blockbuster titles such as We Were Soldiers, Footy Legends, The Queen, Hitcher and Butterfly Effect II bundled with the players. Icon hasn't put its hand up to back either of the other two high definition formats.

NME has also signed-up Bollywood film production company Eros Group.

HD-VMD is NME's proprietary technology. The high capacity red-laser optical disc was revealed at the CeBIT show in March 2006 in the US with players due to sell from next month.

"With HD-TV adoption continuing to grow, and the price of HD-grade displays plummeting, consumers need a cost-effective media platform for content storage and playback, and the HD-VMD players and content will retail for significantly less than its HD-DVD and Blu-Ray counterparts," said Westan Australia executive director, Kamil Aghtan.

VMD discs can store up to 30GB per side, which is equivalent to more than two full feature length films in 1080p resolution. Though the technology uses red laser technology, it is also compatible with blue laser. If blue laser technology is used the capacity of the discs can be increased to 200GB of data.

In comparison, a dual layer Blu-ray disc can store up to 50GB all up while an HD DVD disc can carry only 30GB of data (compared to the 8.5GB stored on a regular DVD), though a 51GB triple-layer model is on its way to approval.

VMD is currently being adopted by content providers and distributors in 12 regions worldwide, including Brazil, Central Europe, China, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Japan, The Middle East, Russia, Scandinavia and the United States. Titles to be released this Spring include Apocalypto, Miss Potter, The Descent, Little Fish and many more.

Pricing hasn't been finalised but US prices are likely to be as little as US$150 for the players, which include USB ports for connection to external storage devices.

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