Why more movie studios haven’t jumped aboard and released WMVHD discs is something I’ll never understand. Toshiba’s HD-DVD is going to be using the VC1 codec and word has it, the player will be using Windows CE. So, if movie studios release WMVHD discs now, we can legally buy HD content today. I did some “research” and was surprised to see a plethora of pirated HD content on the web… and we’re talking amazing quality content here! To me, that screams, “I WANT MY HD… and I’ll get it anyway I can”. So this post is really for the studio execs out there. Think of it this way, if your WMVHD release flops, you won’t lose much, if any, money since the cost of remastering the HD source can be recouped when the competeing HD-DVD formats are released. Consider this a bridge format. For those early adopters, yes, the ones that have extra cash and want the best, the same ones with the 3ghz Windows Media Center in their media racks, charging $20-$30 for a WMVHD disc would sell like crazy. I’m not the only one out there that spent $50 for an imported HD version of the Italian Job from Germany. You get the money… we get our HD — legally. Things are also getting better… now your average person can buy a $249 DVD player that can playback WMVHD content. Meaning, you’ll be able to sell more WMVHD discs. Are you listening!!??

Lets talk about the players now — the ones that play WMVHD content…

Zensonic will be releasing the z500 in Australia this October. The z500 is priced nicely at $249 and will playback pretty much every major format including High Definition 1080i/720p video from WMV9 HD and DivX HD. It also features USB 2.0 hard drive support, 802.11g wireless and Ethernet networking and HDMI connection. The remote is backlit and has a little joystick to make navigating menus easier.

The z500 is still a ways away and there is no mention that it will ever hit our shores, so I’m thinking about buying the I-O DATA LinkPlayer 2. Like the z500, it allows you to playback various formatted files connected from any PC and/or Mac on your network. The Linkplayer also features an USB port so you can connect a camera and USB memory to it. Besides being compatible with DivX HD, and MPEG2-TS (HD 720p) the AVeL LinkPlayer 2 is compatible with Windows Media Video HD (WMV9). From reading different forums, I also noticed that IO-DATA releases firmware updates frequently… this is a good thing. The worst thing is buying a device that never gets updated, so it slowly stops working with new content. The LinkPlayer 2 is also priced at $249 making it an affordable option.

Now if only those darn movie studios would release WMVHD content.