Saturday, January 06, 2007

Don't expect full HD DVD support on Macs very soon

Amir Majidimehr, Corporate Vice President, Consumer Media Technology Group at Microsoft had a few interesting things to say about commercial HD DVD support on Macs:
Well, the situation is pretty simple now that Apple machines are based on X86 as the same highly optimized ports can be used that we have. Of course, we also have the PowerPC version for the 360. So VC-1 is not an issue at all.

You should note that there is a big difference between us providing a full blown player (i.e. the case you are talking about) and us providing component technology for someone else who has the know-how to build Mac applications for a living. In case of Apple building the overall player or someone else with experience with DVD playback on the Mac, the situation would be much better than it was for us fending for ourself.

Our HDi code is highly portable and since PCs/Macs are pretty fast compared to embedded products, getting it running there is not a big deal. The bigger issue is someone building a secure implementation of the player on the Mac. This is the thing that always held us back. Without Apple's cooperation, it is very difficult to build a secure DRM implementation there. But I expect third-parties to get there, should there be enough demand on that platform for HD optical playback.
While OS X's DVD player application does support HD DVD partially, and OS X 10.5 Leopard should support the HD DVD disc format (and drives) natively, there is not yet full support for commercial HD DVD discs.

Judging by Mr. Majidimehr's comments, it sounds like we won't see immediate full HD DVD support (including DRM, HDi, and VC-1 support), although market demands mean that we'll likely see this sooner rather than later, possibly from a third party. Blu-ray support may come quicker though, as Apple has thrown its support behind the format, at least on paper.


Anonymous said...

I thought Apple was planning BlueRay not HD-DVD.

HD-DVD drives are cheaper but ultimatly when the full potentiaal is ready to be used Blueray will be qualitivily better then HD-DVD.

I read somewhere HD-DVD will be the new betamax or maybe soon after there will be Blueray/hd-dvd drives that'll read/write both formats like we had with DVD+ & DVD-

Eug said...

Well, Apple's hi-def support is sometimes a little bit confusing. The have publicly said they support Blu-ray, but OS X and Mac applications already have some HD DVD support, before any such support for Blu-ray.

As for HD DVD vs. Blu-ray elsewhere, HD DVD started out with higher video quality on average (since HD DVD used VC-1 encoding on 30 GB discs, and Blu-ray used MPEG2 encoding on 25 GB discs) and more features, and Blu-ray has only recently caught up, for the most part. Blu-ray still is lacking features like picture-in-picture commentaries. Some may bring up the movie The Descent, but that is not really a true PiP feature. The disc is encoded with two versions of the movie, and one has a video commentary embedded into it. Brute force PiP, as it were, which is an incredible waste of space. (Proper PiP like on HD DVD has the main movie plus a video commentary track without the main movie, and the two are combined on-the-fly during playback if that feature is selected.)

As for the HD DVD betamax comment, you may be referring to Microsoft's comment about not integrating HD DVD into the Xbox 360. I suspect this was a dig at Sony's choice to include Blu-ray in the Playstation 3 (especially since Sony was the backer of betamax). It's a costly addition to the console, with much of that cost passed onto consumers, which may or may not be a wise decision since there is no guarantee it will be the dominant HD format.

In any case, LG's recent announcement of a hybrid player may make the whole war moot. And in fact, all along I've been saying that the Apple platform will be format neutral in real practice when all is settled, just like it has with the DVD formats.

Anonymous said...

Blu Ray disks are much ebtter than HD-DVD and are the potencial to have amuch higher capacities. I would think Apple would have Blu-Ray players in all their mac systems by 07.

Eug said...

"I would think Apple would have Blu-Ray players in all their mac systems by 07."

That seems unlikely. However, I would expect to see Blu-ray drives in the Mac Pros and MacBook Pros in 2007. While Apple likely won't include HD DVD drives in Mac Pros in 2007, third party HD DVD drives or combo Blu-ray/HD DVD drives will work fine.

ntloser said...

I hate content protection. It make a new mini incapable of playing HD DVD. It could have been the perfect Media PC.. With a little tweaking it is....

I installed XP Pro 32 bit, then Cyberlinks Power HDDVD advisor.
The "graphics card" and video "connection type" made it non compatible with HDDVD and Blue Ray.

The good news is, I hate HDCP and content restriction. Using the 360 USB HD DVD drive and some couch other programs, i was able to rip the content of an HDDVD .. thus removing the content protection.

Guess what. The new minis WILL play HD-DVD content but you have to rip it first and use a non commercial player. You also need to use SPDIF output.

ntloser said...

ugh I replied to the wrong "thread" . I need to get some sleep.

martinreed said...

To "ntloser":

"Guess what. The new minis WILL play HD-DVD content but you have to rip it first and use a non commercial player. You also need to use SPDIF output."

I have a dual-core Mini and REALLY want to play HD-DVD movies on my Mac, but every time I follow a thread that I find of how to do it, it seems to fall apart. Could you perhaps detail how you got it to work?

Many thanks