Rapidly evolving interactive functionality will move the HD DVD format ahead of rival Blu-ray, at least when it comes to creative content. So believes Microsoft’s Kevin Collins. With all HD DVD players now able to download new content from the internet, thanks to the latest firmware update, Collins predicts that as “the first titles with Web-enabled extras come to market, you will start to see the distinct disparity between the formats when it comes to interactivity.” Microsoft’s iHD technology is at the heart of HD DVD’s interactive features. Currently available Blood Diamond allows users to take part in an online poll, while the upcoming Spartan CGI fantasy 300 boasts a strategy game. 300 will also allow viewers to call up a picture-in-picture screen to seen how any particular scene looked before the computer graphics were added. Owners can even use their player’s remote control to access 300 wallpapers and ringtones for mobile phones.
Studios are also promising bonus content on some discs, which can be unlocked using downloaded keys.
Says Colins: “Network connectivity is not mandatory in the Blu-ray specification. It has always been optional.” To date the only Blu-ray player able to connect to the internet is the PS3, but it isn’t BD Live compatible at present. Mark Fisher, VP of membership and strategic initiatives for the trade Entertainment Merchants Association says that the key to establishing HD media in the mainstream are interactivity and connectivity. “Easier menus aren’t enough, but a richer, more interactive experience will be.”