Toshiba Corp. and NEC Corp. have announced that the DVD Forum, an international association of electronics makers and movie studios, has approved the two Japanese companies' standard for next-generation DVDs.
The move gives Toshiba and NEC a leg up on a rival standard based on the Blu-ray disc format, which has a larger recording capacity, advocated by Sony Corp., Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands, and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes the Panasonic brand.
But the approval does not rule out development of Blu-ray disc products. Sony, Panasonic, and Philips are also members of the DVD Forum.
Next-generation DVDs will be able to record five times the amount of information of current DVDs. A DVD today can record about 2 hours of conventional analog TV programming, while the next-generation digital video disc format can record more than 2 hours of digital TV programming. The Blu-ray format discs can handle more than 3 hours of digital programming.
Toshiba and NEC say their format -- called HD DVD -- can be priced lower at about 300,000 yen (U.S. $2,700), or about 20-percent cheaper than a comparable Blu-ray model because the assembly lines for current DVDs can be adapted to make the next-generation discs. That cannot be done for Blu-ray discs.
A DVD Forum official said both companies aren't ready to sell their products on the market yet.
The approval only covers "read-only" DVD players. The DVD Forum official, who requested anonymity, said the companies will need similar approval for "rewritable" DVD recorders, a step the companies say they hope to get soon.
Both companies said they plan to design products with the new technology while carefully examining the availability of movies and other entertainment content.
NEC plans to launch new models of personal computers with the technology in the fall of 2005. Toshiba also said it may sell notebook computers with HD DVD drives in the future, and plans to start marketing an HD DVD recorder sometime next year. (AP)
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