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Toshiba drive fuels DVD format wars

Posted: 11 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hd-dd? blu-ray? dvd-ram?

Toshiba Corp. announced it will sell a standalone HD-DVD drive for $1,000 in the fourth quarter of the year. The long awaited announcement by one of the leading promoters of the HD-DVD specification sets the stage for next-generation DVD format wars.

It's unlikely the HD-DVD and competing Blu-Ray format backers will find common middle ground, according to Paul Liao, head of R&D for Panasonic in North America, which backs Blu-Ray along with Sony, Hewlett-Packard and others. The very different physical structures of the two disks give Blu-Ray a capacity advantage and practically ensures that no one will be building multiformat drives anytime soon, he said.

No talks on reconciling the two formats are currently underway, he added.

Panasonic did take a small step in cleaning up current-generation DVD format issues. At CES, Panasonic announced a deal with HP under which Panasonic will support HP's DVD+RW format in its future products and HP will support Panasonic's DVD-RAM format in its future drives.

As many as 40 percent of today's DVD recorders are returned because users find they cannot read or write to media or players from one of today's roughly five unique DVD read/write formats, according to an LG spokesperson.

LG claims its "super" DVD R/W format resolves those issues. The spokesperson went on to say the company is considering launching both separate Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives soon.

For its part, Toshiba said its HD-DVD drive will be backward compatible with DVD and CD formats and may also support some "game formats." Speculation suggested that was a reference to the Sony Playstation for which Toshiba has been a semiconductor development partner.

The HD-DVD drive will sport a 720 progressive resolution, as well as HDMI, 1394 and Ethernet interfaces, according to preliminary Toshiba specs.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

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