Sean Alexander points to the joint Microsoft/Intel announcement that they’ve thrown their weight behind the HD-DVD format. That decision unlocks at least one new feature in the Windows Vista version of Media Center:
Managed Copy is a guaranteed feature within HD DVD that gives consumers the freedom to make copies of their discs to a hard drive or home server, including Media Center PCs, and enjoy them in every room of the house over their home networks. HD DVD discs also will allow copies of the movie to be played on portable devices.
That adds some detail to the rumors published earlier this month that hinted of DVD-copying capabilities in Windows Vista. Looks like you’ll be able to copy DVDs from the newer HD-DVD format only. (And no, let’s not discuss DRM here. I’ll save that analysis for another post on another day.)
Thomas Hawk is concerned whether the copies will be of HD quality:
I’m assuming (hoping) that when copies are made to your Media Center PC that they are of the same high quality format as the original DVD. If this is the case, and the discs, according to Sean, will be 30 Gigs at launch, then say 50 DVDs for the kids at 30 gigs could take up an awful lot of storage. 1.5 terabytes to be exact.
The alternative would be to have the copies stored be inferior non HD versions of the movies which would be smaller but this is also less exciting to me because I’m a nut for HD quality.
Not every DVD uses every bit of capacity. I suspect that by eliminating DVD overhead and using slightly better compression, you should be able to copy a HD-DVD in an average of 20GB, which means those 50GB will need a terabyte of storage.
A terabyte or two sounds like a lot right now, but leap two or three years into the future and the size and costs will not be so intimidating. In 1992, I paid $1000 for a 1GB drive. Coincidentally, that was the average cost calculated by one industry source. (PDF report here.) Costs of storage are going down 45% per year, on average. Today, the cost of a gigabyte of storage is about $0.42, and by 2007, when Windows Vista should be starting to hit its stride, a terabyte drive should cost $130. By 2008, you should be able to get 10 TB of storage for about $700. That will be enough to hold 500 DVDs. Will there even be 500 HD-DVD titles at that point?
Now, if past performance is any indicator, Thomas will have a very, very large collection of digital video – larger than 99% of the population at large. But even a 500-DVD collection should be manageable on a high-end consumer system by the time Windows Vista hits the mainstream.