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And so here we are today. Sony has won, and Toshiba is all sadly black and Blu.

Naturally, Hollywood had to get its licks into the Hi Def DVD brouhaha, because it wanted to protect high def movies from being wantonly copied and distributed by all you at-home pirates. Initially, to get true high def from either of these new DVD formats you were supposed to use the player’s HDMI interface. Otherwise the signal would be downgraded to 480P when you used component video for connecting the player.

This downgrade in picture quality was due to ICT, or Image Constraint Token. After much consumer hue and cry, ICT was shelved, at least for now, and you can get full high def signals off either HDMI or component outputs.

There is also now HDMI 1.3 support on various high def DVD players. But both your player and HDTV have to be 1.3 compliant to get all the A/V goodies. In HDMI 1.3 both picture and audio are significantly improved. However, even if both devices sport a 1.3 spec, an HDMI DVD player and a HDMI DTV still may not recognize each other. The result is no picture.

Of course, they had to start a special consortium to fix all this consumer confusion. It's called “Simplay”. If you want to know who currently gets along with whom, go to Simplay to see a list of verified HDMI compatible manufacturers.

But now that the Hi Def DVD war is over, what does the Blu-sky future look like?  First, there is a new Profile 2.0 spec for Blu-ray, which adds networking capability, as well as picture-in-picture capabilities. In addition, the new 2.0 profile requires two secondary decoders as well at least 1GB of disc storage for updates and content. (Ironic that the losing HD DVD spec had Internet connection and persistent storage capabilities from the get go, and some players also featured PIP.)

Next, expect Sun’s JavaFX Script to play an important role in providing gee-whiz graphical user interfaces for Rich Internet Applications running on 2.0 Blu-ray devices. Mix together and bingo, you have a feature and component rich, standalone Web box with a very slick graphical user interface.  The current plan is supposedly to have “BD-Live” logos on Blu-ray jewel cases so you know that you need a 2.0 compliant player to get all the goodies.


JavaFX for Blu-ray. See Microsoft anywhere in here?


When you finally attach a Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player with its JavaFX-enabled apps to your broadband Internet provider, you may suddenly start wondering why you need a separate PC, home media server, or a DVR like a Tivo.


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