Beyond MP3 - A Format War?

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The possibility of a VHS verses Beta like format war may be brewing, in the arena of HD Audio.

Mark Hachman of PCMAG.com does a great (abet brief) issue with the original MP3 format. The beauty of the MP3HD format is the ability to work with the MP3 equipment we have now, even if we don't exactly love it.

The author makes several interesting points in one paragraph. With:

"One open question: royalty rates. Thomson charges 75 cents per PC software decoder, and between $2.50 and $5.00 for each codec; a hardware decoder is 75 cents, while Thomson charges $1.25 for a hardware codec. (The MP3 licensing page also contains rates for the MP3PRO format, an even more compressed version of MP3 that has since fallen out of favor.)"

The 1st thing that reminds me of can be stated in the memory of another battle. IBM Micro Channel verses EISA. Unless Thomson does some discounting, it smells like the royalty rates for Micro Channel. The market wasn't going to pay those rates so EISA was developed. The war continued until PCI from Intel.

The 2nd thing that comes up in my mind is we don't need a theoretical competing standard for a war. We already got MPEG Surround which has been out for more than a year www.iis.fraunhofer.de .

Some other noble attempts are out there like TS9 from Korea. OK. They competed in the standards process and didn't make it. While I favor an open marketplace, I would be careful of purchasing any MP3 audio content at a higher price just because it is MP3HD.

Unless the electronics' folks get behind new decoder licensing, you will only get regular MP3 performance from the extra cash you burned. I don't see it happening at the list prices for the licensing.

The decision will be made by you, the buyer. And history has shown if a format war is on, the decision to not buy anything unless really needed, is the decision.

Gudrun Funk is a SME for TRCB.com

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