Toshiba Corp. said it planned to launch the first DVD players based on HD DVD technology in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2005, putting pressure on its rivals in the battle over the format for next-generation DVDs.
Toshiba, considered Japan's second-largest electronics conglomerate, said the advanced players would be priced at U.S. $999 initially, but a spokeswoman said the price would drop to less than $500 in 2006.
The machines will be offered in Japan at the same time. The company expects global demand for HD DVD players to total 1 million in 2006, the spokeswoman said.
Toshiba, along with NEC Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., support HD DVD as the next-generation DVD format.
A global consortium whose members include Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. promotes competing Blu-ray technology.
Both HD DVD and Blu-ray technologies use blue laser light, which, with a shorter wavelength than the red light used in conventional DVD recorders, can read and store data at much higher densities needed for high-definition recordings.
Toshiba's HD DVD players may hit the market ahead of Blu-ray-based DVD players from Sony and Matsushita since they have yet to specify the timing of the player launch. Taking the advanced DVD players to market ahead of the rival camp is important for Toshiba after Sony and Matsushita beat HD DVD proponents in the launch of next-generation DVD recorders.
Sony last year launched the world's first DVD recorder using blue laser light, while Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic products, started offering a DVD recorder based on Blu-ray technology earlier this year.
In the previous battle over home-use recording technology, Matsushita and Sony, the world's top two consumer electronics makers, played their videocassette format off against each other, with Matsushita's VHS triumphing over Sony's Betamax. (Reuters)
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