China Blue High Definition format now supports 3D movies, while CBHD-HiFi is designed for secure 24-bit/192kHz recordings

So you thought HD-DVD was dead, buried and long gone, following its withdrawal from the HD format war with Blu-ray a couple of years back? Think again: it's back and selling in China, in the form of the locally-preferred China Blue HD system.

What's more, CBHD now supports 3D movies and other content, while the companies promoting the system now have a high-resolution audio variant CBHD-HiFi, and are pricing the movie discs so far available at aggressive levels designed to see off the threat from pirate Blu-ray discs.

Or, some commentators suggest, real Blu-ray titles, too.

That was the message from a meeting of the CBHD Consortium held last week in Beijing, and attended by representatives of China's State Press and Publication Administration and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The CBHD format was born out of the ashes of HD-DVD, and has been developed in China by a group of companies led by Jiangsu Shinco Electronic Group Co..

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But since it was first promoted in China, CBHD has been overshadowed by the inroads being made there by Blu-ray, fuelled to some extent by the availability of pirate Blu-ray-compatible discs, selling for around 20 yuan, or about £2.

Disc prices cut 50%Until now official CBHD software has sold for about 55 yuan (£5.35) a disc, but now prices have been cut to around half that, in an effort to lure consumers away from often substandard pirate discs.

CBHD has its own copyright protection system, DKAA, and is keen to appeal to content owners as a secure system. And as well as that protection being applied to the first CBHD-3D players, unveiled at the event, it also said to make high-resolution music playable on the new audio-only CBHD-HiFi players resistant to the pirates.

The audio-only discs have a storage capacity of 2x15GB, allowing the storage of LPCM music at up to 192kHz/24-bit, while the output is via secure HDMI to a suitable amplifier.

With this combination of hi-res audio capability, 3D-readiness and secure copy-control, the Chinese consortium is hoping the CBHD format will become the dominant format for music and video distribution in the domestic market.

And with industry analysts suggesting an explosion in demand for TVs, home cinema and audio systems in China, it's a market many there are keen to see exploited by local companies. Or rather not handed over piecemeal to the Japanese and Korean giants currently eyeing it as the key to future expansion.

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