Cinram to Offer Hybrid Discs

In a move that brings to mind the multi compatibility of hybrid SACD and DualDisc, media manufacturer Cinram has introduced a hybrid disc format called HD/DVD 9. The new format will include single-layer HD DVD-ROM (15GB) on one side and dual-layer DVD 9 (8.5GB) on the other side. This will allow studios to release titles on one disc that is compatible with current DVD players and the upcoming HD DVD players. Retailers will not be hampered by having to carry separate DVD and HD DVD inventories. And consumers can enjoy movies in their DVD players now while waiting to reap the benefits of high-def playback when they upgrade to HD DVD without having to buy the titles again. (Whether or not the studios will be uncharacteristically generous enough to use the hybrid format in this manner remains to be seen.)

HD DVD players and pre-recorded discs are expected to hit the market by the end of 2005, but more than two-thirds of North American homes already have a DVD player. With its dual functionality, the new HD/DVD 9 format could help spur the adoption of HD DVD.

In addition to storing a given title in both standard- and high-definition, HD/DVD 9 has other interesting applications. For example, a disc can provide a high-definition movie and a DVD-ROM game, or perhaps a high-definition movie and DVD-based bonus materials. "This product has excellent potential," says David Rubenstein, president and chief operating officer of Cinram. "The combination of a traditional DVD with the new high-definition format creates a new and exciting option for consumers with more features than ever."