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After Sony Electonics Corp., Toshiba Corp. and other major makers of consumer electronics have failed to create a single standard that would replace contemporary digital video disc (DVD), makers of electronics equipment try to create a player that would be able to playback both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. But not only electronics manufacturers: Warner’s developers try to create a disc that would be compatible with any video disc player.

Alan Bell, senior vice president of technology operations, and Lewis Ostrover, senior vice president of new media applications and operations, from Warner Home Video recently applied for a patent on a disc that could include layers in different formats.

“A data disc consists of several layers, including at least one layer conforming to a first format, and a second layer conforming to a second format. The formats can include CD, DVD, HD and BD formats and the layers may be physical, logic or application layers,” a brief description of the invention reads.

Both Blu-ray and HD DVD use 405nm wavelength laser to read data from the recordable media of the discs. However, the data layer of the Blu-ray discs is located 0.1mm from the disk’s surface, whereas the HD-DVD data layer resides 0.6mm deep from the disk’s surface. Warner’s engineers plan to create a disc with a Blu-ray top layer that works like a two-way mirror: it should reflect just enough blue light for a Blu-ray player to read, but it should also let enough light through for HD-DVD players to ignore the Blu-ray recording and find a second HD-DVD layer beneath, reports New Scientist Tech web-site. Theoretically, triple-layer DVDs can be created, if DVD layer is located on the other side to the Blu-ray and HD DVD layers.

On 26 September, Warner will be the first studio to release a movie, Lake House, on all three current disc standards – Blu-ray, DVD and HD DVD – simultaneously. Even though the triple format disc would cost significantly more to make than dedicated discs, retailers would still be much happier to carry one disc instead of three with the same movie.

Traditional single-layer DVDs allow consumers to watch movies in 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL) resolution with Dolby Digital audio. The blue-laser discs will provide consumers 1920x1080 resolution as well as DTS or Dolby Digital Plus audio along with some additional interactive features.

Blu-ray and HD DVD formats compete for replacing the DVD standard. HD DVD discs can store up to 15GB on a single layer and up to 30GB on two layers. Its competitor, Blu-ray, can store up to 27GB per single layer and up to 50GB on two layers, but Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce. The HD DVD is pushed aggressively by Toshiba and NEC as well as being standardized at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies worldwide. Blu-ray is backed by Sony and Panasonic, which are among the world’s largest makers of electronics. Among Hollywood studios HD is supported by Warner Bros. Studios, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, whereas Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox endorse Blu-ray.

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