Told You: DVD Download DL rolls HD back into DVD

Remember how I was talking about all those teasers about how DVD could add HD back into itself. Well, today, introducing DVD Download DL.

Engadget totally butchered what it was. In fact, they made a blog post which completely didn’t talk about the announcement… just re-hashed the “super upconversion” news which is old.

What is DVD Download DL? It’s a new spec that will allow for DVD formats to be transferred over the internet, including HD DVD formats. In fact, despite HD DVD being dead, the group just updated the spec. Why? Because HD DVD is being rolled back into DVD.

DVD Download DL players will enable transmission of HD-quality versions of video from the web. You buy one DVD, and it has two versions; the Standard Definition version on the disc, and an HD version which streams over the web.

Of course, older DVD players won’t see the HD version. You’ll get a notice when you access the menu item saying “You need a DVD Download DL player and an internet connection to watch the HD version of this video”.

And, what DVD Download DL players can you expect? Xbox 360, Window Vista, and Mac, as well as just about every DVD player Toshiba ships from now on.

Also, all these player will have “super upscaling” technology, so your old DVD movie library will look better on your HDTV.

Now, some purists will argue that this is bad. Toshiba isn’t trying to sell you on DVD with HD. Toshiba has given up the video nerd market to Blu-Ray. What Toshiba and Microsoft are going after… is the 95 to 99% of the rest of the world that is still using DVD.

So, CH DVD and DVD Download DL are what Toshiba and Microsoft will use to fight Blu-Ray. The more the merrier I say.

4 Responses

  1. MegaZone
    MegaZone July 3, 2008 at 1:26 pm |

    And I still think this is stillborn. Toshiba will ship players, but they have a shrinking market share and by the time they get players to market there will be many more, and cheaper, Blu-ray players available. I don’t know that Apple will support it, they’re in the Blu-ray camp and never supported HD DVD. Vista and Xbox – maybe, since it probably uses their pet iHD.

    But the hard sell is going to be studios. All of the majors have now made investments in Blu-ray and BD-J for high-def and advanced features. Many of them have now announced that by late 2008 *all* of their Blu-ray titles will have BD-Live content. HDi tool vendors have dropped the tools.

    So Toshiba will need to convince studios to invest in this new/old tech, authoring yet another HD version, and yet another tool set for interactive content. And for what? A middling format. If it is streaming HD content then it won’t be a big improvement over upscaled SD DVD content, due to bandwidth constraints. And it certainly won’t be close to HD Blu-ray content. So why bother? Why not just produce high quality Superbit style DVDs for the DVD market and Blu-ray for the HD market?

    Toshiba’s best hope would be to get some Blu-ray players on board to support it, which would create a multi-format ‘universal’ player. But that’d undercut their own decks which won’t do Blu-ray because of their stubborn pride.

    In the end I don’t see this impacting the market at all, it won’t amount to any competitive force on Blu-ray. And I’ll be surprised if they get any appreciable level of studio support.

    The DVD Forum continues to bleed members, while the BDA gains members. The horses have left the barn, and it is on fire. Toshiba is still trying to close the doors.

  2. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price July 3, 2008 at 6:34 pm |
  3. squiggleslash
    squiggleslash July 5, 2008 at 9:34 am |

    Where are you getting this information from?

    This thread,, includes a comment by someone who has read the DVD Download/DL spec. He says it’s essentially a “Download and burn” kiosk system – you’ll go to a store, buy something obscure, and they’ll burn it for you at the store. This isn’t a new idea, it’s something the DVD Forum announced would be available a while ago but it’s taken time because of the whole need to produce something compatible with existing players yet including DRM strong enough for Hollywood to accept it.

    Adding a “Download HD version” feature would be nice, and I know Hollywood wants to find a way to make downloads work, but a hybrid “Buy a disc and download some of the content” thing isn’t going to please anyone and it’s doubtful Toshiba is considering anything of the sort. It would offer fewer advantages than keeping HD DVD around and asking Hollywood to continue to support the latter format – which obviously they’re not going to do. The BD forum could kill such a “download” system by promoting combo- discs with Blu-ray on one side and DVD on the other. What would be the advantages of an HD download system over combo-discs? Anything at all? Both require more expensive players for the HD component, and one requires an Internet connection and subscription, plus a reasonable amount of local storage (eg a hard drive), to overcome buffering and bandwidth issues. Winner: Blu-ray combo discs, by a landslide.

    It’s not going to happen. There are better ways to add HD content to regular DVDs, most obviously to mandate dual-layer discs with a MPEG4 720p24 version of the video (the audio can come from the MPEG2 DVD version) provided as an alternative video stream. I doubt Hollywood would support it unless it’s part of a larger effort that includes 100% online service (no discs to buy) at the end of the process, so I doubt anyone will go down this route either.

  4. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price July 7, 2008 at 5:30 am |

    It would be unlikely for Toshiba to not at least try. They don’t have anything to lose.

    I don’t see Toshiba rolling out DVD Download DL players, which will have “super upconversion”, but not have HD DVD processing power.

    What it may wind up being is a trojan horse strategy. Get everyone to grab onto DVD Download DL, and then add the HD option later. That would actually make a lot of sense, considering that you would, as has been said above, need high levels of player support to get studios onboard.

    I do agree, that a slightly-downsampled DVD 720p24 would work well for this, with the second disc containing the Digital Copy and bonus content. If Blu-Ray makers are having to offer a DVD bundled with their BD for the Digital Copy, why not stuff the SD content onto that as well?


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