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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Sony wins major DVD studio ally
Rival DVD format stands
The two DVD formats are battling for supremacy
Sony's Blu-ray DVD technology has won over another heavyweight supporter in the battle to be Hollywood's format of choice for the next generation of DVDs.

Film studio Warner Bros has said it will release DVDs in the Blu-ray as well as Toshiba-backed HD DVD formats.

For months, Toshiba and Sony have been leading the charge to woo hi-tech firms and studios to support rival formats.

But the film and technology industries want to avoid a war akin to the 1980s Betamax and VHS video format battle.

Last month, computer giants Intel and Microsoft opted to back HD DVD technology. Other computing giants, such as Dell and Apple, support the Blu-ray format.

Some technology firms and studios have remained open to both formats because there has so far been no compromise made in a unified technology.

Warner Bros' move follows Paramount Home Entertainment's decision this month to support both formats.

Hollywood concerns

The next generation of DVDs will be able to store much more high-quality data, especially important for high-definition video.

The real winner in all of this will be the consumer as a single format comes to market with the dominant support of both the hardware and software industries
Mike Dunn, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Future discs will be able to hold about six times as much data as current DVDs.

For Hollywood, dependable DVD technology that has fast and cheap production times is key.

But the film and technology industries both want to make sure people buying the next generation of high-definition DVDs are not confused about what discs work in which types of players.

Bob Chapek, president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, a backer of Blu-ray, said the move by Warner Bros showed the strength of the Sony-led technology.

"The continued dramatic momentum towards Blu-ray makes us more optimistic than ever that a format war can be avoided," he said.

Mike Dunn, president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, which also supports Blu-ray, added: "The real winner in all of this will be the consumer as a single format comes to market with the dominant support of both the hardware and software industries."

Analysts Forrester Research this week also predicted that the Blu-ray format would come out top in the format war because of growing support for the technology.

The next generation of DVDs will be very important for studios, technology manufacturers, and the games industry. Sony has already said its PlayStation 3 games console will support Blu-ray.

Microsoft has not announced specific plans about support for HD DVD playback in the Xbox 360.

Films in the high-definition format are expected to be released for DVD later this year.

Winning arguments

The two groups, the HD DVD Promotion Group and the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) have spent some time arguing why their technology is better than the other.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Warner Bros are behind the blockbuster Harry Potter movies
At one point, there was hope that the two would collaborate on a hybrid solution, but there has been no agreement so far.

Although the computing and entertainment industries are keen to avoid two formats, the computing industry has overcome such problems in the past by offering drives that can read different formats.

Earlier this week, Hewlett-Packard said it had asked the BDA to ensure Blu-ray included specific technological compatibilities which are important to PC makers. HD DVD already carries the required specifications.

Backers of Blu-ray technology argue it is a more sophisticated technology with a greater storage capacity.

HD DVD supporters say their preferred technology will be available sooner and will be cheaper.

Toshiba's first laptop with a next-generation HD DVD drive will be launched early next year in Japan.



SEE ALSO:
Tech giants move on next-gen DVDs
27 Sep 05 |  Technology
Next gen DVD rivals fail to agree
23 Aug 05 |  Technology
Tech giants explore 'hybrid' DVDs
21 Apr 05 |  Technology
What high-definition will do to DVDs
31 Jan 05 |  Technology
Games win for Blu-ray DVD format
07 Jan 05 |  Technology


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