Another DVD Format?

Here’s just what we need: another optical disc format. On Monday, Vmedia Research announced their new miniature Vmedia disc that is only 32 mm in diameter; that’s slightly more than 1.25 inches, or about one-fourth the size of a standard DVD or CD. This new format is designed for use in mobile devices such as multimedia cell phones. It is designed to hold full-length movies at 576p resolution (less than HD) using H.264 video compression.

The first generation holds 1 GB of data, while a dual layer version is planned that will hold 2 GB. The company is also developing a recordable version.

Well, if ever there was a product whose time has come — and gone — then this is it. 1 GB and less than HD resolution is not a practical product these days. In December, I purchased a 2 GB SD card for $14. It’s a fraction of the size of the Vmedia disc and requires a much smaller reader. It does not require any moving parts, and it does not rely on a fragile plastic media that can be scratched to store the data. And now that 32 GB FLASH memory devices are now available, you can store a full HD movie on a single tiny card. That’s more than a single-layer Blu-ray DVD can hold. And it’s endlessly reusable.

We’re rapidly moving to digital distribution of movies and other video content. It doesn’t make sense to come out with read-only permanent media any more. People will take their rewriteable solid state storage to their computer or an in-store kiosk, and simply load it with the content that they want to view. They can archive it onto home storage if they purchase it, or they can simply replace the content with something else if they are renting. The days of stamping out plastic discs and dealing with inventory and shipping a physical product are numbered, and I expect that this new approach by Vmedia may be little enough, but it’s clearly too late.