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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
November launch date for HD-DVD
Rival DVD format stands
The two next-generation DVD formats are in direct competition
Toshiba has confirmed that it will launch its first HD-DVD player in Europe on 15 November.

The 599 euro (400) HD-E1 will be released two days before rival Blu-ray players, which are available within Sony's new PlayStation 3 console.

A second Toshiba HD-DVD player will be released in December, the company said.

Toshiba and Sony are backing rival formats, but analysts say the competition could depress the market for next-generation DVD equipment.

HD-DVD and Blu-ray players are already available in the US and Japan.

Price points

Toshiba says it has already sold 50,000 players in the US and Japan, and aims to sell 200,000 by the end of the year.

The question is: who needs 50GB?
Yoshihide Fuji
Speaking at the IFA electronics show in Berlin, the company's vice-president of its European DVD division said 10,000 HD-DVD players would be shipped to Europe for the November launch.

Any subsequent shipments would depend on consumer interest, Masaki Kimura said.

Prices for Toshiba's first wave of HD-DVD machines have been set considerably higher than in the US, where the first HD-DVD machines were released in April, and some retail for a little as $499 (260, 390 euros).

By contrast, Samsung's first Blu-ray player was priced at $999 (524, 760 euros) in the US.

Movies 'the key'

Backers of the rival formats have been reluctant to concede any ground in the battle to emerge on top in the HD video market.

PlayStation 3
The backers of Blu-ray hope Sony PS3 will boost its reach
Both formats offer greatly increased storage capacity, compared with traditional DVD players, to cope with the huge sizes of video encoded for new high definition TVs and displays.

But while HD-DVD discs can contain up to 30GB of data, backers of Blu-ray boast that their discs can store even larger files, of up to 50GB.

Analysts and manufacturers say that deals with film studios may hold the key to winning the emerging contest between the two formats.

While Toshiba showed off its new HD-DVD machines at IFA in Berlin, Hollywood giant Twentieth Century Fox gave Blu-ray a boost by announcing plans to release films for that format only.

"We have no plans to release on HD-DVD. Consumer-wise Blu-ray is the best proposition," said Mike Dunn, global president of home entertainment for the studio.

Time Warner also announced plans to release films on Blu-ray, Reuters reported.

But Yoshihide Fujii, Toshiba's digital consumer chief, raised doubts that most Hollywood films would require the greater storage capacity of Blu-ray discs.

"The question is: who needs this," he told Reuters, referring to Blu-ray's capacity.

He said the rival formats could continue to co-exist, but conceded that the major film studios could make or break either format.

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