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Converting HD-DVD to Blu-Ray: Is it possible?

written by: M.S. Smith•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/14/2009

HD-DVD lost the war, leaving those with large HD-DVD collections to wonder what they should do with all of their favorite movies. Conversion from HD-DVD to Blu-Ray is one option - but it isn't easy.

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    The Wrong Side of the War

    Blu-Ray won. HD-DVD threw in the towel months ago. Even consumers who don't normally pay a lot of attention to home theater technology have probably noticed that HD-DVDs have disappeared from store shelves and have been replaced by Blu-Ray sections twice their previous size. The HD-DVD seems now destined to go the way of Betamax, Laserdisc, and other formats which never really hit their stride.

    But what if you have a collection of HD-DVDs at home? And what about all of those HD-DVDs that people can now purchase for half the price of a normal DVD? Don't worry. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy HD-DVD content even as the world transitions to Blu-Ray

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    Converting HD-DVDs to Blu-Ray

    Rest well, HD-DVD. We hardly knew thee. Unfortunately, trying to convert HD-DVDs to a Blu-Ray format in order to update your home library isn't the easiest thing in the world. That is not to say it is impossible, however. If you'd like to convert your HD-DVDs to Blu-Ray you'll first need to invest in a program that can rip an HD-DVD. There are two programs available right now, and both are fairly easy to use. The first is AnyDVD HD, and the second is DVDFab HD Decrypter. The big difference is that DVDFab HD Decrypter is shareware while AnyDVD costs about $90 dollars. As you might have guessed, you'll also need an HD-DVD drive on the computer that will be ripping the data.

    Once the data is ripped, it should be in a .EVO format. What you need to do is to convert the files to a format which Blu-Ray uses. This is where things get messy. First you will need to use EVOdemux which is an EVO file Demultiplexer (don't ask). Next you will need either a program called Vc1conv (found about mid-way down the page) or H264Info. Which one you need depends on the HD-DVD, as Vc1 and H264 are designations for different ways of encoding an HD-DVD movie. If figuring out which you have seems hard, don't fret - you can obviously try programs and discover through trial and error which format you're encountering. You'll need to compress the audio because the single-layer Blu-Ray discs you're almost certainly going to be burning the movie onto will have less capacity then an HD-DVD. For that you use a program called Eac3to. Finally you'll want to use tsMuxeR and tsRemux to prepare the video streams which you have for burning onto a Blu-Ray disc.

    Now that you've jumped through all of those hoops and wrangled with some programs that are less then user friendly you'll need a program that actually burns to a Blu-Ray disk. For that you will probably want to use a program like Nero 9, which is quite robust and will, unlike some of the above programs, be extremely easy to use. However, it will cost at least $69.99. And of course you'll need a Blu-Ray burner, which is going to set one back about $160.

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    While converting HD-DVDs to Blu-Ray is possible, the process involves the need for both a HD-DVD drive and a Blu-Ray burner (which will also play Blu-Rays) and at least one piece of not-inexpensive conversion software. Because of these requirements, converting HD-DVDs to Blu-Ray isn't often cost effective. Those who have HD-DVDs and which to convert them may be better of buying a new Blu-Ray player.
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    Alternatives

    A Blu-Ray Burner is required to convert from HD-DVD to Blu-Ray The above process does work, but its success rate could be considered less than optimal. The programs involved are freeware tools which are less then simple and there is a lot of file management involved. Also, as one might have noticed, converting HD-DVDs to Blu-Rays is quite expensive. The overall cost of the above process is at least $230 dollars for a combo Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive and Nero 9. If you decide to pay for AnyDVD then the price will be about $90 dollars more. Plus you'll need to pay for Blu-Ray discs, which cost about $40 dollars for a ten-pack.

    In other words, those who currently own HD-DVD products would be better off keeping their current HD-DVD player and then buying a separate Blu-Ray player. It would require far less hassle and it would be less expensive. Those who own an HTPC are even more fortunate, as the Blu-Ray Burner mentioned earlier is actually a combo drive that reads HD-DVD discs as well. There are quite a few such combo drives available, but a word of advice - snap them up quickly. HD-DVD drives are already becoming harder to find, and I'm sure these combo drives will be phased out of production soon.

    Those who own HTPCs also have the option simply leaving the HD-DVDs ripped to a hard disk and playing them back using a program such as PowerDVD 9. This method works well, but those looking to rip an entire HD-DVD collection may find themselves running out of hard drive space.

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    Final Thoughts

    So there you have it - the programs and equipment needed to convert an HD-DVD to Blu-Ray and the reason that you'd be crazy to do so. If you're still interested in converting from HD-DVD to Blu-Ray, however, then good luck. Everything that is needed is listed above, but working with the tools can be frustrating to say the least. Do not expect every conversion to work on the first try, and have a Blu-Ray player nearby so that immediate testing of the finished product can be done.