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Thomson to enter HD DVD market

Company hedges its bets by making both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, but its players will support only the latter format.

Thomson announced Friday it that it will enter the HD DVD market with a line of players and that it will also manufacture HD DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Thomson is the latest company to the next-generation DVD formats. And while the debate continues over whether the industry will ultimately favor the HD DVD format or the Blu-ray format, Thomson is pushing ahead.

"Our tradition is based on being a trusted service provider to content owners, independent of format choices," Quentin Lilly, president of Thomson's Technicolor Home Entertainment Services business, said in a statement.

NEC and Toshiba are main advocates for the HD DVD standard, while Sony and a larger number of technology powerhouses, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Royal Philips Electronics and Samsung Electronics, support the Blu-ray format.

Supporters of both HD DVD and Blu-ray say their respective format will pave the way for higher-capacity DVDs, which in turn will result in higher resolution for video and audio, Web connectivity and other advancements.

Thomson's Technicolor business will manufacture both the HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. However, the company is planning to only provide HD DVD players--they're scheduled for release by the latter part of next year--and has no immediate plans for unveiling a Blu-ray player, said Monica Coull, a Thomson spokeswoman.

The next-generation DVD players will be sold through Thomson's RCA brand in the United States and through the Thomson brand in Europe.

"While HDTV is just beginning in Europe, our experience with other digital entertainment products tells us that the steady growth of HD content will fuel continued growth of the category," Mike O'Hara, a Thomson executive vice president, said in a statement.