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DVD Recording Standards: Why the conflict?

By zavyman in News
Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 02:09:13 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

The CD-R and CD-RW standards were established quite nicely, without any conflicting standards for recordable and rewritable discs and players. If only that were the case for DVD. Although we now have two major rewritable standards, companies are beginning to realize the importance of interoperability.

Apple was the first company to really get a consumer DVD recordable drive out into the open with their inclusion of the DVD-RAM drives inside some of their desktop machines. However, the discs produced are not compatible with many DVD-ROM drives.

On the other hand, we have DVD+RW, which put a different philosophy towards rewritable DVDs, where:

Sony, Ricoh, Hewlett-Packard, Philips, Mitsubishi, and Yamaha joined hands at PC Expo to announce that they are still inching forward to create products that can author rewritable DVDs and be read by existing DVD players.
The group is at odds with a competing DVD-RAM group that includes Hitachi, Panasonic, and Toshiba. DVD-RAM drives, which began shipping this year, cannot be read by early DVD-ROM players, a problem that the DVD+RW group is painstakingly trying to avoid.

This is excellent that the companies are agreeing to support each other as well as all the DVD-ROM owners out there. However, it is certain that the DVD+RW drives will not be able to read or write DVD-RAM, so essentially there will be two groups in conflict. The question on my mind is will this bring a situation like Beta vs. VHS, and how can consumers make sense of all this conflict?


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DVD Recording Standards: Why the conflict? | 14 comments (11 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
I'm sick and tired of interoperability issues in t (1.00 / 2) (#3)
by h0tr0d on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 01:46:14 PM EST

I don't understand why we can't all just get along. Don't these big corporations realize that the more interoperable their products are the more likely they are to sell a lot of them. I mean, yeah I know that interoperability also increases competition but as we've all learned from an unnamed corporate grinch that competition breeds innovation. The more interoperable a product is, the more competition there is and henceforth the more the comsumer benefits. Not just from the innovation as each company tries to give you a reason to buy their product over the next guys but also because the products become more reliable and less bug ridden.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.

Re: I'm sick and tired of interoperability issues (none / 0) (#5)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 02:19:01 PM EST

The problem isn't that manufacturers can't do or don't like interoperability, its that each manufacturer or group wants to set the standard, so that they can charge fees, gain prestige, etc.

[ Parent ]
The Price Companies Pay for Compatibility Fights.. (none / 0) (#6)
by meldroc on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 02:33:00 PM EST

is customers will wait much longer to buy their products. I'm waiting for the DVD-RAM/DVD+RW conflict to be resolved before I invest in a DVD drive so I don't have to deal with compatibility issues. If they had settled on a standard early, I would have picked up a player by now.

DVD-RAM (none / 0) (#7)
by Neuromancer on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 02:42:59 PM EST

DVD-RAM should have gotten their act together and made their format readable by standard players. Nobody needs separate formatting for video and data. Pirates are going to get what they want anyways, why make us suffer just to make it more of a pain in the ass for people who are going to copy stuff anyways?

Was CD compatibility a smooth road? (none / 0) (#8)
by sugarman on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 02:48:11 PM EST

Correct me if I'm worng, but while CD compatibility is now a given, was it a smooth road from it's inital adoption, especially once professional and non-production CD-R's started appearing?

Somehow, I don't think it was. Though specs were issued, there were a number of compliance issues. This was especially prevalent with CD-RW, where not all discs would br recognized in all drives. This is still an issue when you run into legacy equipment.

Now, my details may be sketchy, (or non-existent), I wouldn't mind someone with a little more first hand knowledge with them to fill in ssome of the details.

Remember, the good old days were never really as good as they seemed.

Re: Was CD compatibility a smooth road? (5.00 / 3) (#9)
by fluffy grue on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 07:07:54 PM EST

[Disclaimer: my memory is kinda hazy on some things here. Prepend 'I think' or 'I'm pretty sure' to each statement which follows.]

CD-R, and CD-RW to a lesser extent, had it easy in that their standard formats are basically the standard iso9660 filesystem session, and that the CD-XA (multisession) specification went off without a hitch, thanks largely due to the oft-forgotten PhotoCD (the first real use of CD-R, and one of the would-be killer apps of CD-ROM drives if Kodak hadn't mis-marketed it so badly). The only problems with early CD-ROM drives reading CD-Rs was that many drives assumed physical things about pressed CD-ROMs which just aren't true with CD-Rs, so many pre-CD-XA drives physically can't read CD-Rs.

DVDs, however, have been completely crippled, filesystem-wise, by the playback protection and 'hidden track' bullshit added in by the MPAA. That's a HUGE chunk of what needs to be worked around. Add to that the way that multi-layer DVDs work (which is why many early DVD players can't grok CD-Rs, and why many modern cheapo DVD players let you play EITHER CD-Rs OR multi-layer DVDs), and you have an interoperability nightmare.

Also, recall that the MPAA doesn't want [country]-released discs being played in other countries, which is a non-issue but still a major nuisance for things in general, and I don't see the MPAA allowing "their" format to really be bastardized for purposes which - oh no - tear down borders and lead to world unity. After all, a unified world at peace has less discrete market opportunities (they really DO want you to have to re-buy The Matrix for every country you ever take residence in).

Gah, I'm feeling scatterbrained. But basically, CDs didn't have this problem because there wasn't all the political pollution going on behind it. I don't have to bet anything about new audio standards having the same problem - look at how the RIAA, having gotten "wise" to MP3s, are making DVD audio such a MAJOR pain in the ass to actually get implemented. And for what? An MP3 CD-ROM can hold 10 hours of music; AC-3-compressed 5.1-channel audio has a bitrate of around 192Kbit, and a DVD could hold what, 30 hours of a 192Kbit stream? Nobody will want to release - or have to pay for - such a dense disc! Most artists don't even come close to filling up the 650 megs available to them on a CD!
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Was CD compatibility a smooth road? (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by sugarman on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 10:02:57 PM EST

With regards to DVD audio, I thought that it would not be total length of playing time that was increased, but rather the quality of the digital samples (more wavelength, whatever...I'm half deaf and not much of an audiophile)

As an alternative Sony, Toshiba and others are pushing an alternate format called Super Audio CD. Well, actually SACD is Sony's propietary format (anyone surprised? Anyone? Anyone?), and Toshiba and ??Philips?? I think? are working on a different one.

Sony looks like it will be first to market, as they have high end CD players (we're talking $5000 USD and up here) available for professional or hardcore use. The kicker is, these things are supposed to make regular CD's sound better as well (don't ask me how).

Where was I? Oh yeah, it looks like we're far from done in the compatibility wars front. It just pgoes to prove the old point: if something works well, we'll find a way to screw it up.
[ Parent ]

Re: Was CD compatibility a smooth road? (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 02:38:43 PM EST

With regards to DVD audio, I thought that it would not be total length of playing time that was increased, but rather the quality of the digital samples (more wavelength, whatever...I'm half deaf and not much of an audiophile)

My understanding is that DVD audio is spec'ed out at 24-bit samples and 96 kHz sampling rate. Which more than handles the deficiencies of the CD standard. That being said, a lot of CD's sound poorly because the people doing the mixing either:

  1. Don't understand the CD spec well enough to counter how it colors recordings
  2. Don't know what they're doing with a mixing board
A number of well-established artists are re-mixing their CD catalogs to make up for the shitty job that was done before.

[ Parent ]
Re: Was CD compatibility a smooth road? (none / 0) (#14)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jul 01, 2000 at 11:14:13 PM EST

SACD looks stupid to me. It's waaaay overkill, and has lots of audiophile testimonial, which is probably related to why it makes normal CDs sound "better" (remember, audiophiles are the same people who prefer vinyl and tube amps because it sounds 'warmer' as though 'warmer' means 'more pure' when this 'warmer' sound is because the signal's getting degraded... they also claim that you can use Kenny G and other "jazz" albums to calibrate a stereo system but not THX-mastered DVDs, when part of THX mastering is ensuring that the equalization and mixing are within VERY strict tolerances, whereas CDs have absolutely no mastering tolerances whatsoever; these are also the same people who spend $600 on just a POWER CORD to theoretically improve their sound quality, too).

Um. Where was I. Yeah. Anyway. I can see the reasoning behind 48KHz for playback, and certainly more than 48KHz while recording (I mean, there are many legitimate reasons to sample at 96KHz *while recording*), and perhaps can see the reasoning for, say, 20-bit (or even 24-bit, even though the maximum signal difference between a 20-bit stream and a 24-bit stream is, well, negligible) over 16-bit, but... their specs are just LUDICROUS. Not to mention that CDs are already thoroughly-entrenched, and the players (which I've seen for as "low" as US$3000) are obviously intended for audiophiles, and will most likely go the way of the laserdisc.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

(4.00 / 1) (#11)
by GoRK on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 03:06:33 AM EST

You didnt even mention DVD-R! Why? Maybe because DVD-R is way out of the consumer price range (~$8000 for a burner) But what's special about it and why are ALL the other formats ultimately going to fail? Capacity! You think these DVD-RAM drives and DVD+RW drives now are suddenly going to be able to make that magic leap from 2.3GB (single layer one side) to 4.7GB (the standard size for single layer single side capacity) wrong! not to mention that double sided DVD-RAM and DVD+RW media is ONLY available (last i checked) in a caddy from which it cannot be removed (kind of useless if you want to pop it into a dvd player -- as if it could be read anyway) So DVD-R..... let's see. it's record-once but well.. so be it. the capacity matches DVD and the media is very durable. Oh did I mention the 2nd generation DVD-R discs work in any DVD 1.1 compliant player/DVD-ROM drive? Nice bonus

DVD-R (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by zavyman on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 08:46:23 AM EST

DVD-R will be compatible with all other DVD devices, as you mentioned, so there will not be the problems of interoperability that we are seeing. Like CD-R and -RW once were, rewritable DVD's are not seen as much of a threat to the DVD Forum as is DVD-R, since the latter will almost exclusively be used for making movies. I think it is clear that the movie industry has tried to make DVD-R get as far out of the reach of consumers as possible.

DVD rewritable formats (except DVD-RW, I think) are out of the control of the DVD Forum. This is key because formats like DVD-R are under their strict control and will have copy-protection matters to deal with.

And I think you may be wrong about the capacity issues. From the DVD Faq:

Phase-Change Rewritable DVD is an erasable format announced by Philips, Sony, Hewlett-Packard and others based on CD-RW technology. It will become available in early 2001. DVD+RW is not supported by the DVD Forum (even though the DVD+RW companies are members), but the Forum has no power to set standards. DVD+RW drives will read DVD-ROMs and CDs, and probably DVD-Rs and DVD-RWs, but will not read or write DVD-RAM discs. The drives are expected to write CD-Rs and CD-RWs. DVD+RW discs, which hold 4.7 billion bytes (4.4 gigabytes) per side, should be readable in about 70% of the existing DVD-Video players and DVD-ROM drives.
That is why DVD+RW is a solid contender against DVD-R. We'll soon see if they can deliver what they have promised.

[ Parent ]
DVD Recording Standards: Why the conflict? | 14 comments (11 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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