Adding weight to the notion that two high-definition DVD formats may co-exist, leading manufacturer Thomson today announced that it would manufacture HD DVD-compatible discs as well as Blu-ray versions in its Technicolor division.
The company, however, took a step closer to NEC and Toshiba’s HD DVD camp,saying it would manufacture players for that format under the RCA and Thomson brands.
One Foot in Each Camp
Thomson is clearly playing both sides of the coin. The company is a founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association and said it will continue to help develop and support the format.
High-definition formats offer higher resolution imagines and sound. The DVDs themselves can hold a lot more information.
Yesterday, Disney and its Buena Vista Home Entertainment Division announced they would release Blu-ray-compatible DVDs. Sony, Samsung, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are among the other companies that are promotingBlu-ray.
Warner Bros. Studios, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures andNew Line Cinema announced almost two weeks ago that they would back HD DVD.
“The problem is that we’re getting into another round of format wars anduntil it shakes out, consumers are not likely to buy much of anything,”Michael Gartenberg, research director at Jupiter Media, told TechNewsWorld.
“Enthusiasts and getting to market first don’t matter,” he said. “Theenthusiasts are going buy no matter what. If they pick the wrong format,they’ll buy again. It’s the mainstream that matters.”
Out in 2005
Thomson plans to begin releasing the HD DVD players at the end of 2005 underthe RCA brand name in the United States and the Thomson brand in Europe.Blu-ray products are moving more slowly, the company said.
Single-layer Blu-ray discs will have a 25 GB capacity, dual-layer discs twicethat. HD DVD’s capacity is 15 GB, but supporters of the format say it moreefficiently writes data to discs.
Gartenberg said those comparisons might be missing the point because thebetter technology will not necessarily come out ahead.
“It doesn’t matter which is thebetter technology, it matters where the content is going to live,” he said.
“Consumers are happy with their DVD. They’re not going to be rushing out toreplace their content.” For that reason, consumers can sit back and wait to see how the format wars shake outbefore they upgrade.