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HD DVD Creates VHS vs. Betamax Scenario

In-Stat reports that after decades of being able to avoid the consumer confusion and market inhabitance of a format battle, the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD battle promises to be the second coming of VHS vs. Betamax.

High-definition is the buzzword that permeates the DVD player market. CES 2006 was supposed to be the extended battleground for the two opposing camps of the blue laser high-definition playback formats. The Blu-ray camp presented product announcements from Blu-ray DVD player manufacturers Sony, Samsung, LG Electronics, and Pioneer. Sony was vague about pricing and the formal release date. The HD-DVD legion was ready. Toshiba announced an HD-DVD player that would be released worldwide in March 2006. Thomson followed suit by announcing the release of an HD-DVD player, through the brand RCA, for summer 2006.

Now we're at the end of March and nothing is rolling out quite the way that blue laser proponents advertised. LG Electronics shifted gears. At CES, LG Electronics announced plans to develop on the Blu-ray platform. However, by the beginning of March, LG Electronics announced that it would scrap its Blu-ray only plans with the intention to develop a DVD player that would support both Blu-ray and HD-DVD playback.

Sony, which had announced plans to release the BDP-S1 at CES, finally formalized a released date and price (June 2006, MSP US$999). Toshiba announced two HD-DVD players set for March 2006 release. The Toshiba HD-A1 was designed to trump the Blu-ray players with the earlier release date and a more appealing price of US$499. However, Toshiba has since pushed back the release date, it says, to coincide with the release of HD-DVD titles by Warner Home Videos. These setbacks must be frustrating to potential early adopter consumers.

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