HD-DVD is short for High Definition/Density Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc. Increases in availability of HDTV (High Definition Television) in North America in the mid 90's, made the creation of a corresponding HD-DVD format essential. HDTV started entering the broadcasting market emphasizing the limitations of standard definition video. Screen sizes are starting to increase and a need for a better quality video format emerged. As quality of broadcasting started to increase, a demand for a cheap way to record and playback HD video also increased. JVC's Digital VHS and Sony's HDCAM are the only storage mediums that can record and playback HD quality videos.
History. An organization that regulated DVD standards since its birth, called The DVD Forum, has worked with manufacturers around the world to specify a new type of disc that will cater to the new needs of the home entertainment market as well as computer applications. From the standard DVD, the next generation of DVD needs to be interoperable between high definition displays and Internet connectivity. It must be easily manufactured and consumer friendly, retaining the standard DVD's value in software and hardware.
Expecting more than half of America and Japan to have HD-ready displays by 2008, Shuji Nakamura invented blue laser diodes. These diodes were in turn used by Sony to create the DVR Blue format, which became Blu-ray, announced February 2002 - the counterpart of HD-DVD. HD-DVD was started by Toshiba on April of 2002 because The DVD Forum was divided on whether to go with the more expensive Blu-ray or to pursue their own blue-laser high-definition solution. This started the format war between the two formats.
The Format War. Toshiba, together with NEC, announced their competing standard Advance Optical Disc on August of 2002, just six months from the announcement of Blu-ray discs. It was adopted by The DVD Forum, which changed the name to HD-DVD on 2003.
The HD DVD Promotion Group, which consists of Toshiba as the chair company, Memory Tech and NEC Corporation as the vice-chair companies and Sanyo Electric as auditors, was created to form a group that will exchange thoughts and ideas to promote HD-DVD format globally.
Negotiations between the two formats to avoid the war eventually failed, and both Blu-ray Association and The DVD Forum announced its failure on August 22, 2005.
Launch and Decline. The first HD-DVD player was launched on March 31st, 2006 in Japan at $934, and it was released in the U.S. on April of the same year with prices ranging from $499 to $799.
On April 18, 2006 the first HD-DVD movie titles were released, including "The Last Samurai" and "Million Dollar Baby" by Warner Home Video.
The start of the year 2008 was the first instance of consumer sales decline. Stating confusion and indifference as the reason for the decline in sales, Warner Bros. announced they would stop their support for HD-DVD by June 2008. Netflix and Best Buy followed suit and started recommending Blu-ray disc over HD-DVD. Wal-Mart was probably the biggest loss HD-DVD had, announcing its withdrawal of support in June 2008.
With this series of withdrawals of support, Toshiba finally decided on February 19, 2008 that they would discontinue their plans to development and manufacture of the product. In June, the movie "Freedom: 6" was released, making it the final HD-DVD title.