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China Goes Forward with Its Own High-Def Disc: CBHD

China Goes Forward with Its Own High-Def Disc: CBHD

Chinese electronics manufacturers have officially unveiled the first CBHD disc players, China’s home-grown alternative to Blu-ray (and, formerly, HD-DVD) which it hopes will jump-start a market for high-definition video in mainland China. Like Blu-ray, CBHD uses a blue laser to read high-capacity optical discs, although CBHD discs have a physical structure more like a traditional dual-layer DVD that could make it easier for existing DVD manufacturers to produce CBHD titles. CBHD is based in part on Toshiba’s defunct HD-DVD format, and uses AACS copy protection. Dual-layer CBHD discs can accommodate about 30 GB of data.

Chinese manufacturers Chinco and TCL are getting ready to put their first CBHD players on sale, with prices starting around 2,000 yuan (roughly $293 USD), which makes them substantially cheaper than Blu-ray players, in part because CBHD players don’t have to pay the licensing fees associated with Blu-ray. As for content, China hopes to have at least 100 movies available on CBHD by the end of 2009…including titles from major Hollywood studio Warner Bros.

The president of TCL Corp has been quoted as saying his company hopes to sell as many as 10 million CBHD players this year, piggybacking on rising popularity of HD televisions in Chinese urban markets. However, many industry watchers don’t expect CBHD or or Blu-ray to truly take off in China anytime soon. It remains to be seen whether CBHD discs will become a notable industry in China’s notoriously bootlegging-friendly environment: CBHD movies are expected to be priced at 50 to 70 yuan (about $7 to $10 USD), leaving plenty of room at the bottom of the market for illegal distributors.

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