DVRs

Next-gen DVD truce?

Sony and Toshiba are reportedly negotiating a single next generation disc standard, which could spell an early end to the Blu-ray versus HD-DVD battle.

Sony and Toshiba are reportedly negotiating a single next generation disc standard, which could spell an early end to the Blu-ray versus HD-DVD battle.

The battle of the discs has come to a halt...for the time being. According to numerous media outlets, including the Nikkei Journal, Sony and Toshiba have started negotiating a possible single next-generation disc standard that features the best aspects of both Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD formats. However, reports on the matter are mixed. Some media outlets are saying the negotiations have stalled, while others, including the Mainichi Daily News, say the two sides are close to a deal.

Sony and Toshiba each announced its own unique next-gen disc format in 2002, and each has been battling the other for upcoming market dominance. To date, the companies have split the market nearly down the middle. Sony's Blu-ray format has been adopted by more than 100 companies, while 83 firms have committed to Toshiba's HD-DVD format.

The Nikkei Journal reports both sides have acknowledged that a uniform standard is essential for market penetration. Both sides realise that two different formats could bring back the VHS-versus-Betamax wars of the early '80s, a competition Sony lost. The Journal says Sony and Toshiba have been talking behind closed doors since February. It also reports the two sides have already contacted American media firms, such as Walt Disney and AOL Time Warner, about the acceptance of a new common disc format.

The Mainichi Daily News goes one step further, saying Sony and Toshiba "have reached an agreement and are in the final stages of deciding on a third standard". If the two companies reach an agreement, they will co-develop a new "hybrid" standard that takes advantage of the strong points of both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats.

The development of a new next-generation format could impact Sony's PlayStation 3. Sony revealed last September that its next-generation game console will use Blu-ray discs, also known as BD-ROMs. Sony hasn't yet commented on how a compromise disc format will affect its PlayStation 3 plans.

But just because the two sides are meeting to discuss the possibility of a compromise disc format doesn't mean any progress has been made. "There have been no major decisions or negotiation [breakthroughs] around the time of this news report," the Journal quotes a Toshiba representative as saying. "We are continuing to discuss on a unified format that will benefit our users, but there has been no significant progress."