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Toshiba, NEC Vow HD-DVD Product in 2005

26 Jul, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Toshiba Corp. and NEC Corp., two principal backers of the next-generation HD-DVD format, today said they would launch compatible hardware products beginning next year.

The announcement, which heralded the start of a three-day HD-DVD showcase in Tokyo for the Japanese entertainment industry, coincided with reports that Microsoft would include the DVD format in Longhorn, its next-generation Windows operating platform.

A U.S.-based Microsoft spokesperson wouldn't confirm the report and declined further comment.

In related showcase news, Pony Canyon, Japan's largest distributor of DVD titles, said it would begin releasing DVD titles in HD-DVD next year; Japanese disc replicator Memory-Tech Corp. announced the completion of an HD-DVD line that it claims can produce 720,000 discs a month.

“HD-DVD will further encourage the convergence of PC and audio-visual products,” said Hiroshi Gokan, executive GM of NEC's computer storage products operations unit, in a statement.

The arrival of HD-DVD product occurs as proponents of rival next-generation DVD, Blu-ray Disc, have proclaimed the imminent launch of a 50GB disc with 67 percent greater capacity than an HD-DVD disc.

The Blu-ray format is supported by a host of hardware manufacturers, including Sony, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics and content provider Columbia TriStar.

The studio has said Blu-ray's extra capacity is critical to the future success of the home entertainment business and would allow movie studios to recoup a film's theater costs.

Benjamin Feingold, president of Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, who earlier this year said CTHE would release all home video product in the Blu-ray format by the end of 2005, believes failure to adopt the format would seriously undercut content creators' ability to sell extended features on movies and video games.

Both formats use a blue laser for alleged superior picture quality rather than a red one found in the current DVD format. HD-DVD costs less to make because the manufacturing process is essentially similar to existing DVD, which means replicators won't have to undergo costly makeovers.

However, the capacity is a little less than Blu-ray, which advocates say is shortsighted in an era where everything needs to be supersized.

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