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January 4, 2007

Stop, you’re both right (and wrong)

Posted by David Hunter at 11:23 AM ET.

The big feud over High Definition DVD formats has been smoldering right along since the opposing camps started rolling out their hardware at midyear and not surprisingly has resulted in desultory sales while consumers sat on the sidelines trying to figure out which horse to bet on. Now some industry players have tried to make the feud irrelevant by coming up with ways to support both formats:

Richard Siklos reports at the NY Times that New Disc May Sway DVD Wars:

Consumers wary of buying new high-definition DVD players because of a technology war reminiscent of the days of Betamax versus VHS will soon have a new kind of DVD that might make the decision less daunting.

Warner Brothers, which helped popularize the DVD more than a decade ago, plans to announce next week a single videodisc that can play films and television programs in both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, the rival DVD technologies.

Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner, plans to formally announce the new disc, which it is calling a Total HD disc, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Because of manufacturing complexities, the Total HD disc will not contain a standard format version (i.e. regular DVD – ed.), said Kevin Tsujihara, the president of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group. However, several months ago the company filed patents for a new disc incorporating all three formats, which it could produce in the future.

Mr. Tsujihara described the new disc as an elegant way for studios to make their content available more widely “in a way that is not conceding defeat” for the format they have been backing.

In the short term, Total HD would actually add to the number of formats retailers will have to stock, raising it from three to four.

Hit the link for more, but so far there is no groundswell of support by the studios in the opposing camps to adopt this compromise and their participation in creating dual format disks is required for this solution to work. I rate the idea “A” for effort, but there seems to be a better choice for consumers – LG Makes World’s First Blu-ray/HD DVD Dual-Format Player:

LG Electronics (LG), a leader in consumer electronics and mobile communications, announced that it will launch the world’s first dual-format high-definition disc player, capable of playing both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD content. The unit will be released in the United States in early 2007. Details will be provided at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held January 8-11 in Las Vegas.

As long as it’s not too pricey, a dual format hardware solution like this is the only hope consumers have of insulating themselves from the studios’ little games. Moreover, if the dual format players start moving off the shelves, I expect the other hardware manufacturers would pile on no matter which camp they are nominally in.

Filed under Blu-ray, CES07, Conferences, HD DVD, Hardware, Microsoft

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