Combining both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD on one disk is a great idea in one sense, but a ridiculous solution in another. There shouldn’t be a format war in the first place. At least it’s a life preserver for the poor consumer adrift in the flood of new technology.

Time Warner’s Warner Bros. plans to announce a high definition disc at CES that combines both the Blu-ray and HD DVD formats. In other words, the disc—called Total HD—will come with both Blu-ray and HD DVD formated content on it. A little confusing? You bet.

I don’t think it is confusing, although it will prolong the war as both sides will be able to operate in the neutral zone provided by a binary format.

Because of manufacturing complexities, the Total HD disc will not contain a standard format version, said Kevin Tsujihara, the president of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group. However, several months ago the company filed patents for a new disc incorporating all three formats, which it could produce in the future.

Mr. Tsujihara described the new disc as an elegant way for studios to make their content available more widely “in a way that is not conceding defeat” for the format they have been backing.

In the short term, Total HD would actually add to the number of formats retailers will have to stock, raising it from three to four. However, Irynne V. MacKay, senior vice president for entertainment products at Circuit City, said she supported the idea because it took pressure off consumers puzzling over which format to invest in. “The simpler the future is for us, the better,” said Ms. MacKay.

IMNSHO, this development means that both formats will survive until superceded by the next generation of storage.

  1. Mike Voice says:

    What a great end-run around the two hardware camps.

    We’ve all been waiting for a format-neutral player [like the LG], and now we get a format-neutral disc… EXCELLENT! 🙂

    In the short term, Total HD would actually add to the number of formats retailers will have to stock, raising it from three to four.

    In the short term… until it reduces the formats stocked from four to two: DVD and Total HD???

  2. Mark Derail says:

    The deciding factor will be which format produces blanks first to sell a spindle of 100 for 19.95$

    DVD took off when burners and blanks became cheap.

  3. Wayne Bradney says:

    I’ve no enthusiasm for either format. All the DVDs I own are now ripped to a RAID array, and until I can do that with the new format I won’t be buying them.

    Anyway, couldn’t movies just be shipped on USB thumb drives? They’re sure to hit 40 or 50 GB in the next couple of years. Then you could also re-use the drive if the movie turns out to be crap (which most of them inevitably do).

  4. JT says:

    I still haven’t seen a compelling reason to upgrade to either of these two formats. Let’s get down to the real reason why these new formats were released. Pirating and copy protection! The movie companies have lost control of current DVD technology. End users can pretty much do as they please which is eating away at profits. The only way to regain control is to make huge HD data files so they can’t easily be transferred, using a new scheme of copy protection, with discs where blank media is prohibitively expensive. That’s what this is all about. The disc distribution format is going the way of the CD and the dodo bird. With the increasing pervasiveness of broadband, the internet download model is viable for movies. Sorry movie companies, I’m not playing and I hope most consumers reject it too. This should go the way of the RCA SelectaVision into the trash heap of failed formats.

  5. Chris Swett says:

    I recently watched a rented blu-ray movie on my PS3 using a 42″ HD plasma screen from 10 feet away and could not tell any difference between that and a DVD of the same movie. Maybe when I get a 100″ TV capable of 1920×1080 I’ll care about a hi-def format, but I’ll still be renting the discs or downloading.

  6. Milo says:

    So now you pay the price of two players combined because the manufacturers didn’t do their market research properly. There’s no end to the costs business will try to fob off onto the consumer these days.

  7. Tom 2 says:

    So Blu-Ray and HD-DVD had a baby, how sweet.

  8. Jägermeister says:


    Exactly… store your stuff on huge hard drives instead. A 750 GB Seagate could store roughly 25-50 HD DVDs or 15-30 Blu-ray discs. Not only does the hard drives take less space, but I believe it might be cheaper per GB.

  9. doug says:

    with impeccable timing (but jonesing for HD content for the new TV), I bought a Toshiba HD-A2 HDDVD player last month. On a 42″ plasma, I could very easily tell the difference between a HDDVD and a SDDVD, although the upscaling on the latter was excellent as well.

    good on Warner Bros for a dual-format disk. I have more enthusiasm for it than the dual-format players, which will no doubt be premium priced for at least a year, as they soak the early adopters and try to pay for the double-load of HD hardware.

    and Total HD as a hardship for retailers? just another advantage for on-line sellers like Amazon who don’t need a third rack.

  10. noname says:

    Damn Good and simple ingenuity, I should of thought of it.

    Sounds like the will be using two different layers, one layer for one format and another for the other. I wonder which layer LG Electronics DVD players that can play formats will default too or will it just get confused.

  11. JoaoPT says:

    Bah. To my extreme sorry, the future will not be neither bluray nor HD DVD. It will be pipes. Fat ones. The move to digital distribution of content has already begun. Why should you go out to Blockbuster in the cold when you can just download it to your media center device HD (hard disk). My local cable and phone companies are already battling on a bandwidth war. They all do 24Mbps and one is even selling fiber optics access at 50Mbps. And the cable sells voip telephony and the phone operators sell smart TV over DSL. Seagate just announced the first Terabyte drive, coming out in 3 months. The writing is on the wall:
    Media Center connected to fat pipes.

    And I’m sorry for this because the grip gets tighter around you. The more dependant on wired distribution you are, the more control they have over you.

    Nowdays I can go to Blockbuster and rent a movie. And if I really like it, later I can go and buy it from them at discount prices. But you see, this plastic disc has payed royalties only once, when was bought by blockbuster. The wired IP model of content distribution will charge you whenever you see a movie, or listen to a song. It’s a moneytising heaven for mpaa/riaa companies. Plain simple as this.

  12. Smartalix says:

    3, 8,

    That will happen, but the time is not yet ripe. We’re getting there fast, though. Broadband VOD (video on demand) coupled with honking big hard drives will dominate the living room, synching with personal media players for when the user isn’t home. Soon removable singe-file media will only be a niche market. (Then again, single-file sales are a major factor in retail, so disks may stay viable for a long time. Wal-Mart can’t sell you what it can’t package.)


    Actually, there will be a diffrent technology per side, each with multiple layers of the representative format. The player would have to have a “this side up” sign on the tray with a fixed mechanism above and below or a swivel dual-side dual-format mechanism as was used in the late-generation DVD/LaserDisc players. (I still have my Pioneer DVL-91.

  13. Tom 2 says:

    So what are the pros and cons of HD-DVD and BLU-RAY?

  14. Jägermeister says:


    I agree. There are quite a few people doing already, but it won’t become big until there’s a user friendly version of the setup.

  15. Donald says:

    #5, is your Plasma screen EDTV (852×480) or at HDTV (greater than 1280×720)

  16. esay says:

    But how would this work can total hd disc store more than blu-ray discs?
    Otherwise if you want to burn stuff on it your better get blu-ray disc and save all you’re movie’s(or what ever) on that right?
    If anyone knows how much total hd can store please tell me


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