HD on a DVD. Toshiba joins Apple. Wither blue-ray?


It’s well known that both HD optical disk formats (HD DVD and Blu-ray) burn data onto a disk with a blue laser. Well, in a recent Engadget note, they noted that the new Toshiba Vardia RD-A301 conforms to the “HD Rec extension which allows HD DVD format content to be stored on red-laser DVD-R/RW/RAM disks…

Engadget says this is about 2 hours on a 4.7g disk. Interesting, since Apple’s DVD Studio Pro also records HD DVD video onto a DVD-R, which can be played back in HD DVD players. This was as of version 4.1.2 (this application hasn’t received any big upgrades in a long while.)

So… what’s the point of going to a new optical standard of the same HD content can be put onto existing DVD disks?


You can see at Toshiba’s Japanese web site that the A301 deck is a finished, shipping unit, not a prototype you see at a show, like the Vardia RD-RX7 Engadget snapped at expo.

Apple currently notes: For playback of DVD Studio Pro 4-authored HD DVDs: a Macintosh computer with a PowerPC G5 or Intel Core Duo processor.

Primarily that’s for the decoding and pixel pushing power. (You really have to wonder why Apple needs a $3000 PC to do what a $98 Toshiba A2 can do- for 1/30th the cost!)

Another thing to consider here is that many people are using legal, commercial software to rip DVD movies onto personal media players of all sorts. Most often, they re-compress the MPEG-2 movie to MPEG-4. Then maybe they reduce it from 720×480 to 320×240 to fit their portable player’s screen and make for much smaller files. In other words, most people are very accepting of lower than “stellar quality” video.treo_700p-slingplayer_hi.jpg

So, do we need 50 gigs of space for a movie?
Or can we compress it with MPEg-4 and put it on media we already have?
For movies, I’d hazzard a guess that the Toshiba Vardia might just be the HD home video solution that tips the scale, while HD DVD and Blu-ray duke it out.

How many Blu-ray or HD DVD home video recorders do you see on the market?
People like to record
their favorite programs, either to keep or to time shift.
Thusfar, Blu-ray and HD DVD have only offered us the ability to play content we buy…
…again (VHS, Laserdisk, DVD, …)

The reason the VCR, and today’s DVR / PVR, on-demand, TiVo, Sling, video iPod and the rest really succeed is that they let us watch our content, or record new content, and watch it as we see fit. They are not about selling us new disks.

Neither is the Vardia. And that’s why it may be the winner.


4 thoughts on “HD on a DVD. Toshiba joins Apple. Wither blue-ray?

Add yours

  1. Looks to me like this a product for Japan and not destined for the US market. They have Bluray recorders over in Japan, but I haven’t heard of those reaching our shores. As a fan of the Panasonic DVD recorders with hard drives, I’m sorry to say that heavy-duty off-air recording is mostly going to dedicated set-top boxes in the States with TiVo and Media Center PC’s taking a small slice.

  2. For portable use, it’s fine to drop the audio and video quality. I really don’t think it’s acceptable to drop HD to 5Mbps and try to call it HD, that seriously degrades the picture quality, even when using AVC. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are about top-notch video quality for the 40″+ TV screen.

    I think you also should keep in mind that consumer DVD-Video recorders took a few years to be affordable, until then, DVD owners used VHS or PVRs. Even then, I don’t know many PVR owners that store their TV recordings on DVD, it’s just deleted.

  3. Well, TiVo owners could do it for yeas, with Pioneer and HumaxUnits that features DVD burners built-in. I have one. I love it. It’s far easier than using TiVo to Go to get content off the recorder. Also numerous third-party applications have sprung up to provide functionality.

    Toast 8 Titanium is the best upgrade yet!
    * Take your favorite TV shows to go, with easy TiVoToGo™ transfers


    This doesn’t happen if there isn’t so much demand that the software company is confident that they can recoup costs to author new capabilities.

  4. There are those of us who record off our DVRs every day and save our favorite shows to DVDs using a stand alone DVD recorder. So this product would really sell if it hits the US market.

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