By the time you read this, the first high-definition video players should be on sale. These initial models, however, won't let you make copies of commercial content. Manufacturers expect to add this capability to later HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc products.
The recently adopted interim Advanced Access Content System spec protects prerecorded content in both formats contending to succeed today's DVD. But members of the consortium that developed the specification were unable to agree on its so-called managed copy component, which will dictate how content providers will be able to authorize customers to legally copy content, whether for free or for a fee, to a home server, another disc, or devices such as portable media players.
"We are still working out the policies for that," says Richard Doherty, spokesperson for the AACS Licensing Association. The interim spec was released so that consumer electronics firms could begin delivering players of AACS-protected content; the final spec, not expected until late spring at the earliest, will likely allow studios to offer a variety of copying capabilities that could vary from title to title.
In early March, Toshiba said its first HD DVD players, the $499 HD-A1 and the $799 HD-XA1, would be on sale by the time you read this, while Pioneer's $1800 Elite BDP-HD1 and Samsung's $1000 BD-1000 Blu-ray Disc players were due later this spring.
All of these players were expected to incorporate the interim AACS spec, and they won't support consumer copying or sharing over a home network. Unless you can't imagine wanting to copy prerecorded high-def movies for use on other devices or as a backup, consider waiting for equipment that will give you more flexibility with your new high-quality content.