First High-Def 3X DVD-ROM Mastered

DVD mastering software developers Doug Carson & Associates (DCA) have announced that the first 3X DVd-ROM was successfully mastered and replicated on January 17 at Sonopress’ facility in North Carolina. (PDF)

What is 3X DVD? It’s a variant on standard red-laser DVD-ROM which uses HD DVD’s UDF 2.5 file system and (currently compromised) industry-standard AACS copy protection to offer up to 135 minutes high-definition video. However, this is not the same high-def video one might find on a studio HD DVD release: instead, it’s AVC or VC-1-encoded, 720p resolution video content. There’s no 1080i or 1080p support (although, of course, software and player-based upscaling is possible), and the 3X DVD-ROM discs are only readable by HD-DVD drives&mdash which 3X DVD-ROM proponents argue may give HD-DVD extra weight in the format war.

Proponents of 3X DVD-ROM argue that the format offers a lower-cost means for content providers to enter the high-definition DVD market, and, despite videophiles’ sneers, 720p content is exactly what seems to be adding new legs to Microsoft’s Xbox Live video download service. However, the availability of 3X DVD-ROM content isn’t going to reduce the price of HD-DVD players for consumers, and early buyers of HD DVD technology may not be too excited at comparatively short, low-resolution content. If the 3X DVD-ROM format is going to take off, it seems likely HD DVD will have to succeed in the marketplace without 3X DVD-ROM’s help, sustaining enough momentum to spawn a lower-tier market for cheaper, shorter, lower-definition video discs which are only compatible with HD-DVD players.