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About High-Definition DVD (Blu-ray and HD DVD)

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What is high-definition DVD?

High-definition DVD is an optical disc format that provides high-definition video and audio playback capabilities as well as increased data storage sizes over the conventional DVD format. Some high-definition DVDs also offer 3D video.
There are two competing high-definition DVD formats: HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. In this article, high-definition DVD refers to both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. For a detailed comparison of HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats, refer to the DVD/High capacity disc format comparison table.

What are the differences between standard DVD and high-definition DVD?

The main differences are:
  1. High-definition DVD format can hold more than three times the capacity of traditional DVD format.
  2. High-definition DVD format enables movie studios to develop menus and interactive content that can be accessed and used while the movie is playing.
  3. High-definition DVD uses HDCP (HDCP High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) and AACS to protect movies from being copied. DVDs use CSS (Content Scramble System).
  4. High-definition DVD format can support 3D viewing.
  5. Over twice the display resolution. The following graphics are examples of the difference between the formats:
    Figure 1: SDTV display area (25% actual size)
    Figure 2: HDTV display area (25% actual size)

How can I view high-definition movies in high-definition?

Viewing commercial (protected) High-Definition Blu-Ray movies from a computer requires six main components:
NOTE:Requirements for HD DVD also have 6 requirements but demand HD DVD compatibility in place of Blu-Ray compatibility.
  • One monitor or HDTV that supports HDCP. Typically, TVs marketed as a High-definition TV support HDCP.
  • A disc drive that supports Blu-Ray.
  • One HDMI or DVI connection.
  • A software movie player that supports Blu-Ray, such as "HP DVD Play BD".
  • A Blu-Ray movie disc.
  • An Internet connection (for AACS key renewal). Not needed for initial setup and viewing, but required for long-term viewing of high-definition DVD movies.
Once all of these components are connected and turned on, you should adjust the display resolution on the computer to match the best possible HDTV resolution on your display device - preferably 1080p or 1920x1080. If you cannot match the same supported display resolution between devices, find the next closest match using the advanced display settings of your computer graphic hardware.

How can I view 3D high-definition movies?

Viewing commercial (protected) 3D Blu-ray movies requires six main components:
NOTE:Requirements for HD 3D DVD also have six requirements but demand HD 3D DVD compatibility in place of Blu-Ray compatibility.
  • One 3D ready PC display, such as a monitor or HDTV, with a High-Definition Content Protection (HDCP) compliant input.
  • A disc drive that supports Blu-Ray.
  • A pair of 3D glasses that is compatible with your software. You will not be able to view 3D Blu-ray movies without 3D glasses.
  • A software movie player that supports Blu-ray 3D playback. Standard media players might not play 3D movies.
  • A graphics card that is compatible with the type of 3D technology used by the software. For example, if you use NVIDIA 3D Vision technology, the software, glasses, and graphics adapter must all conform to this technology. You can look up the specifications for your computer or your graphics card to find out whether the graphics card is compatible.
  • The processor in your computer must be fast enough to support Blu-ray 3D. Usually, if your graphics card is compatible with Blu-ray 3D, your processor can support 3D.
Once all of these components are connected and turned on, you should adjust the display resolution on the computer to match the best possible HDTV resolution on your display device, preferably 1080p or 1920x1080. Set the refresh rate to 120 Hz. If you cannot match the same supported display resolution between devices, find the next closest match using the advanced display settings of your computer graphic hardware.

What kind of copy protection is used?

HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is a copyright protection method to prevent movies from being copied over the audio and video stream. HDCP encrypts content as it passes from the computer to the display (monitor or hdtv). To play High-Definition DVDs over a digital connection, you must view the High-Definition DVD movie on a display that is HDCP-enabled.
In order to protect the movie data from decryption, high-definition DVDs use Advanced Access Content System (AACS) keys. The software player will not be able to play protected content after the AACS keys have expired and been revoked. Renewal of AACS keys is easily done by opening the software used to play the high-definition DVD movies while the computer is connected to the Internet.

Error: The content is protected. The content is not allowed to play in current display mode.

High-definition DVD titles require special graphic cards and drivers. This error happens when the high-definition DVD player software does not recognize a compatible graphics card or driver on your system. This error can also happen when the display device does not support HDCP.
You can work around this error by lowering the display resolution to less than 480p (720x480). To view in high definition, make sure your display device supports HDCP. In some cases, this error may be resolved by updating drivers for your graphics card.

DVD/High capacity disc format comparison

DVDHD DVDBlu-ray Disc
Logo
storage capacity (single-layer)up to 4.7 GB up to 15 GBup to 25 GB
storage capacity (dual-layer)up to 8.5 GBup to 30 GB (more layering offering greater sizes possible)up to 50 GB (more layering offering greater sizes possible)
ResolutionUp to 480i/480p (720x480 or 720x576) SDTV.Up to 1080i/1080p (1920x1080) HDTVUp to 1080i/1080p (1920x1080) HDTV
Supported audioUp to 7.1 Dolby Digital (although there are very few released titles that use 6.1, most tiles are 5.1 capable)All formats supported by DVD + Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS HD.All formats supported by DVD + Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS HD.
HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) NoYesYes
Menus can be used while movie playsNoYesYes
Supports DVD MoviesYesYesYes
Supports HD DVD MoviesNoYesNo
Supports Blu-ray MoviesNoNoYes
Supports 3D MoviesNoYesYes
NOTE:1GB = 1 billion bytes when referring to storage capacity. Actual formatted capacity is less.

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