HD DVD to get "community screening" feature

Posted by Mark Raby

Hollywood (CA) - A new function for HD DVD will be available next month, allowing multiple viewers to watch the same movie and interact over a global network.

The new "community screening" feature will debut with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which comes out for HD DVD in December.  The disc will allow users to send out invites to other owners of the movie to watch it together.

One player will act as the host and is the only one who can pause, rewind, and fast forward the video.  Additionally, users will be able to use their remote controls to enter instant messages that can be sent to other viewers while the movie is playing.

Unlike Blu-ray players, all HD DVD players are required to have an Ethernet port for Internet connectivity.  This is the first time it has been used for direct player-to-player interaction.  Currently all web-enabled HD DVD movies just offer supplemental downloadable content.

This feature gives HD DVD another edge with regard to enhanced functionality.  Although Blu-ray movie sales have handedly crushed HD DVD since the inception of the format war, HD DVD titles have consistently contained more advanced bonus features.

Additional HD exclusives for the release will be a picture-in-picture video commentary, a special chapter bookmarking feature, and the ability to access downloadable content.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be available for HD DVD on December 11.  A Blu-ray version is also slated for release but will not contain any of the bonus Web-enabled features.