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It's official: Toshiba announces HD DVD surrender

The consumer electronics giant says it will stop producing HD DVD players, effectively conceding the high-def format war to Blu-ray.

Crave UK

The two-year war between HD DVD and Blu-ray officially ended Tuesday morning as Toshiba waved the white flag and declared it would stop producing HD DVD products.

The company, which began sales of HD DVD in March 2006 with the HD-A1 player, "decided it was not right for us to keep going with such a small presence," said chief executive Atsutoshi Nishida. The Blu-ray format is now the definitive winner in the war and stands unopposed as the optical media replacement for DVD.

Toshiba's news release goes into a bit more detail: "Toshiba will begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD DVD disk drives for such applications as PCs and games in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts to meet customer requirements. The company will continue to assess the position of notebook PCs with integrated HD DVD drives within the overall PC business relative to future market demand."

Three movie studios currently support HD DVD--Universal, Paramount, and DreamWorks Animation--but we expect them to follow suit and announce support of Blu-ray sooner rather than later. Update: All of these studios have indeed followed suit.

With Blu-ray support announced by industry heavyweights Netflix, Wal-mart and Best Buy, speculation ran rampant before the weekend that Toshiba would end the war, and the company deserves credit for pulling out as soon as it did. The two incompatible formats have led to plenty of confusion among prospective buyers of next-generation hardware and software, although some have opined that the war was a good thing--at least it led to price drops.

We've been advising readers against the purchase of HD DVD players since the announcement by Warner Brothers in January that it would exclusively support Blu-ray. That doesn't mean we're telling everyone to rush out and buy a Blu-ray player now; we still believe that most home theater fans would be better served to wait for prices on players to fall. Of course, with the exit of Blu-ray's major competition, those prices may fall later rather than sooner.