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Explanatory Notes
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Title Best
Mission: Impossible: Special Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)=

Blu-ray vs HD DVD

    The Paramount HD DVD and Blu-ray editions of the Mission: Impossible Special Collector's Edition contain the same range of special features, and are identical across all countries. There are no region coding restrictions on HD DVD discs at the time of writing. The Blu-ray disc is coded Region B, for Australia and Europe.

    The HD DVD disc is a dual layered HD-30 format, while the Blu-ray is single layered (BD-25). This allows an additional 5Gb disc space to the HD DVD version.

    The Blu-ray video transfer has been encoded using MPEG2 compression, while the HD DVD uses the more recent VC-1 codec. Despite what I would expect to be vast differences in compression efficiency, as well as disc capacity, there is very little to separate these transfers. The Blu-ray transfer does have a slight softness to the image that I wouldn't say is detrimental, but would certainly come down to a matter of taste. The grain I mentioned, particularly on pale surfaces, seems slightly more pronounced in the Blu-ray transfer.

    The audio properties of each format are identical. There was a slight difference in overall output level between Blu-ray and HD DVD on my equipment, but I would put this down to bitstream decoding algorithms inherent in the player rather than the actual disc coding.

    The menu systems and navigation are identical on both formats. The packaging only differs slightly in graphic presentation, however the box materials, "foil enhancement" and hard Amarays are the same (besides the colour tinting, of course). The graphic art on the rear of the slick is slightly rearranged between formats, but has the same content. The Blu-ray discs have sharp corners on their art, whereas the HD DVDs have smooth, rounded edges.

    The verdict? I realise this title is only available in the Ultimate Missions Collection box set (at the time of writing), but my instincts lean towards the HD DVD camp. Greater disc capacity and more efficient video compression have to be a good thing, and would certainly sway my opinion even if I hadn't viewed both box sets in their entirety. In terms of personal taste, I prefer the HD DVD transfer for its slightly sharper image.