Japanese developer Pony/Canon has successfully created a Blu-ray hybid disc that will work in standard definition DVD players.
HD DVD, pioneered by Toshiba, had this ability since launch, with one side being the HD DVD content while the flip side being a standard dual-layered DVD. However; this Blu-ray hybrid disc is different, in that the DVD and Blu-ray data shares the same side of the disc.
CDRinfo reports the hybrid disc is able to share information between the different formats due to a semi-reflective layer that will block the blue laser used by Blu-ray players from penetrating the interior layers of the disc where the DVD information is stored.
This technology was first developed by JVC in 2005 to ease the transition from standard definition DVD to high definition Blu-ray. This format is in compliance with the Blu-ray Disc Association standards and, according to the manufacturer, has achieved a 99 percent compatibility rate with current hardware. One limitation to this technology is the Blu-ray layer is limited to 25GB (single layer) as the second layer is used for the DVD information.
The first movie to utilize this technology will be “Code Blue emergency helicopter doctor Blu-ray BOX” and will be released in February 2009 in Japan only. Initial release of “Code Blue” will be in a four disc box-set that will retail for 36,540 Yen ($406 USD) compared to the DVD only release; which will retail for 23,940 Yen ($266 USD). If this pricing scheme holds true for future releases, we can expect a 52 percent markup from the DVD only version.
One of the often criticized attributes of the Blu-ray format is its cost of entry. Because this hybrid technology was originally intended to ease the transition to HD, it doesn’t make much sense to charge such a high premium for the inclusion of standard definition content. When the HD DVD combo discs were still being sold, the mark up was a few dollars at most. There is currently no indication that this format will be adopted for release in North America or Europe.