NEC Chip Plays Both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD
Blu-Ray or HD-DVD? Today, that seems to be the eternal question. Hardcore (and wealthy) techies will probably lean toward the former, which appears to have the greatest potential for high definition playback. That's certainly an arguable point, however, and many will take the slight differences to the bank when they pick up the HD-DVD player for half the price. With all of that said, what if someone offered you both? This morning NEC is announcing to the Japanese media its plans to release a chip that is capable of both playing and recording in each of the available next-gen formats.
The news is sure to complicate matters. Reportedly, the new dual-capability chip will sell for about 10,000 yen, or $84 USD. That's roughly the same price as the chips exclusively designed for either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, meaning that many consumers who hear this will be puzzled if all manufacturers don't make the two formats available in future high definition players.
For now, dual formats may not be a reality. Although a part is in the works to cost-effectively bring the dual-format chip into use, for now a pair of separate lenses must be employed. That makes for more expensive players, and an "aww, shucks" reaction from many interested techies.
Don't lose all faith yet, however. The players incorporating NEC's new chip won't see the light of day until sometime in 2007, and by that point the hybrid and more efficient lens should be available. That could – and should – drive costs down for any manufacturer hoping to bring a double format player into the market.
Is this a reality? It's not certain just yet. Manufacturers can increase production at lower cost to themselves and the consumer by simply releasing players tuned to just one format. That means that many players, despite the fact that they can display either high definition format, will only give the consumer the ability to use one. That may not make sense right now, but the capabilities and availability of NEC's chip have yet to be tested.
The potential of the announced technology is being cautiously approached by most tech insiders. Some are optimistic, while others simply find that cost and manufacturer demand will see the NEC chip fall by the wayside. If there is one tidbit of information to keep the positive thinker happy, it is Warner's recent announcement that it will produce a hybrid disc for both formats. That's proof that dual-format ideas are being brainstormed by more than just manufacturers, and if those creating the content for discs have a say – as Warner surely does – then NEC might just have something great on its hands.