The first US "twin-format" HD DVD/DVD release (the anime title 'Freedom 1') doesn't hit store shelves until June 26th, but our Kenneth Brown got a sneak peak this week, and tells all in his just-posted review.
Not to be confused with double-sided HD DVD/DVD combo discs, twin-format discs can contain up to three layers of recorded content on a single-sided disc. 'Freedom 1' uses two of those layers -- a 15GB HD DVD layer, and a 4.6GB standard-def DVD layer.
Looking at the disc itself, Kenneth says you'd never guess it's anything special. Unlike combo discs, one side has a printed label, while the other side looks just like a normal HD DVD disc. Pop it in an HD DVD player or a standard-def player, however, and the twin-format disc starts to work its magic, auto-detecting the player format and hopping to the proper layer without the user having to make any selection.
As for video quality, Kenneth says this first-ever anime release to hit high-def disc in the US looks excellent, boasting "vivid colors, perfect black levels, and crisply detailed linework." Considering the program's running time of only 25 minutes, arguably that's no great feat for a 15GB HD DVD, but it is an encouraging sign for both Microsoft and the disc's distributor Bandai, who reportedly worked together to tweak the VC-1 encode specifically for anime.
|The front and the back of the twin-format HD DVD/DVD 'Freedom 1' disc.|
As if a brand-new disc type and a newly-tweaked codec weren't enough, 'Freedom 1' is also notable for its inclusion of several more-advanced HDi-enhanced extras, including a customizable picture-in-picture track, and some additional supplementary features accessible only through your HD DVD player's internet connection.
For more details and a comprehensive overview of this disc and all of its features, check out Kenneth complete review of 'Freedom 1.'