Posted Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 06:00 AM PDT by
Two high-def disc formats not enough for you? The long-awaited Versatile Multi-Layer Disc (VMD) is now officially available in the United States.
The third high-def disc format was originally announced back in 2006, but had evaded US release until now.
Gadget blog Technabob was first to note the inconspicuous US market debut for VMD on Amazon.com, where three VMD players are being sold direct from the manufacturer, with prices starting at only $189.
As we've previously reported, the upstart format's red laser multilayer disc is currently capable of storing 15 to 20 GB on a single layer, with plans to grow that number to 30GB.
But according to New Medium Enterprises, the UK technology company that developed VMD, the format's real sell is its ability to deliver the same high-quality video and audio as Blu-ray and HD DVD at a fraction of the cost -- both to the consumer, and the content creator.
While disc production costs for Blu-ray and HD DVD are said to run somewhere between $2 to $3 a unit, VMD discs reportedly cost just over a $1/unit to produce, only slightly more than standard-def DVD.
Cost aside, VMD is likely to face an uphill battle both for recognizable high-def content -- and for shelf space at retailers.
The company has yet to announce any US-based content partners, and it seems highly unlikely that any of the major studios will make their films available on VMD disc, at least in the short term. (Overseas, the company has partnered with a number of indie film distributors, most notably including Eastern Europe's Monolith Films which owns regional rights to films like 'Apocalypto,' 'Lord of War,' and '16 Blocks.')
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