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Dual Format Devices Announced at CES

Jan 11, 2007  •  Post A Comment

With the high-definition DVD format war dragging on, two companies are unleashing new products designed to bridge the technology gap.
LG is announcing a new dual HDTV player at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week that plays both rival Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats. Warner Bros. Home Video is announcing “Total HD” discs that are encoded with both formats.
The products aim to allay consumer fears about picking a high-def format that might soon be extinct and represent a breakthrough in the industry format gridlock.
Sony’s Blu-Ray format and Toshiba’s HD-DVD have been in a battle for corporate alliances and public opinion to become the new home video standard for the past two years, with their first generation of respective players hitting stores in 2006.
Consumers, studios and consumer electronics retailers have grown frustrated. Consumers are reluctant to invest in a player that might not “win” the format battle. Studios and retailers are concerned the dispute is causing customers not to purchase DVDs, standard-def or high-def, until a winning format is crowned.
The LG player is dubbed the “Super Multi Blue” and will launch this quarter.
“We’ve developed the Super Multi Blue Player to end the confusion caused by the current competition between Blu-Ray Disc and HD-DVD,” said Dr. Hee Gook Lee, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics. “Customers are no longer forced to choose between the two formats. As full HD TV is already gaining ground, we are hoping that the Super Multi Blue Player will play the trigger role in expanding and advancing both full HD TV and high-definition DVD market volume together.”
There is a catch. The new player has a suggested retail price of $1,199. For that price, a customer could buy both a Blu-Ray and an HD-DVD player.
Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group, said that a player with that price is unlikely to shepherd a new era of consumer adoption.
“The dual capacity makes a lot of sense, the question comes down to price point,” he said. “We’re still at a very early adopter phase.”
Still, both projects are cracks in the dam, as companies tire of Sony and Toshiba’s ongoing format battle and look for new ways to circumvent the dispute.
Warner Bros. originally backed HD-DVD before deciding to release content in both formats. Most other studios are continuing to back one format or another.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s High Definition newsletter, a weekly source of breaking HD news, articles and interviews written by Senior Reporter James Hibberd.

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