Monday, December 11, 2006

High definition movies

There is a lot of buzz this season in regards to high definition movies. Even for enthusiasts, the topic can still be a bit overwhelming to fully understand. What is a high definition movie? What is needed to play them? And what does the future hold for them?

First off, your regular DVD movie that you rent from the video store is a standard definition movie. It has a video resolution of 480 lines of detail. A high definition movie comes in two flavours, either 720 lines of detail, or 1080 lines of detail. More lines of detail results in a sharper and clearer picture of the movie.

So where do you get these high definition movies from? Well, there are a few different ways. The first way will be just like how you can go out and get a regular DVD movie. You can go out to BlockBuster or any other video store and rent or buy the high definition movie on a disc that looks very much like a normal DVD. BlockBuster is actually starting to rent out these high definitions movies at their stores and expect more video store to follow suit in the coming years. You can tell a high definition movie from a regular DVD by the high definition movie having one of two little logos on the packaging.

Either a 'Blu-ray' or 'HD-DVD' logo, as shown above, will tell you that the movie is a high definition movie. They do look much like a regular DVD, but however, they will not work with a regular DVD player. A special type of player is needed to watch these movies on your TV or computer, which I will discuss a bit later on.

Another main way you can watch a high definition movie is by downloading it off the Internet. Most videos you can download off the Internet at the moment are not in high definition, as a high definition movies takes longer to download than a standard definition movie, but with time more high definition content will become available. Expect to see more high definition movies and trailers available for download from services such as iTunes or XBOX Live in the coming months. You can download these high definition videos with not only your computer, but also with such video gaming consoles such as the XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, and possibly other devices.

Lastly, high definition movies can be watched over cable television (OTA or Satellite TV also) , either on a station that is provided in high definition or possibly through On-Demand services that some providers provide. Talk to your service provider for more information on their offerings.

In all these cases though, even if the content is available, you need the proper hardware to watch these videos. You need a high definition TV or large computer monitor to witness the full experience of high definition content for one thing. If you plan on renting high definition movies from the video store, you will also need a player for those discs you rent. At the moment there are two competing formats at BlockBuster, Blu-ray and HD-DVD, with not all movies being offered in both formats. Neither format is compatible with each other, so at the moment to cover all your bases, you will need two players, one that plays each type of format. Over time, we may see hybrid players come to the market that play both formats, or one format may simply lose this current format war that is taking place. Only time can tell.

The PlayStation 3 does have a built in Blu-ray player, but like all current high definition players, it is a costly device. The XBOX 360 is capable of playing HD-DVD movies with an appropriate add-on. As well, both these devices offer the potential of downloadable high definition movies off of the Internet.

Modern computers can also be fitted with a Blu-ray or HD-DVD drive that will let them play these same movies, either displaying the content to a TV or a computer monitor. Only the newest high end computers though are capable of doing this properly, as high definition movies demand a great deal from the requirements of a computer. In the coming years, with new advances in technology and more adoption of these new computers by consumers, it will become easier and easier however to try this method.


Steve said...

yes. a very boring article. sorry.

Alex said...

no, i found it thrilling.
can you do a bit on cameras?

Steve said...

i shall.

Unknown said...

Steve as somebody who works for a cable company, i found your article very informative, researched and not bias to one or the other formats out there. Thank you