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Blu-ray and HD-DVD: news from the front lines of the format war

Blu-ray and HD-DVD: news from the front lines of the format war

With the premiere Blu-ray player--the Samsung BD-P1000--shipping to stores, the battle between formats has officially begun. Striking while the iron's hot, many companies and news organizations have revealed new details on upcoming HD-DVD and Blu-ray players. Here's a roundup of the biggest news items:

  • Hoping to steal some Samsung thunder, Toshiba announced the first commercially available HD-DVD recorder. The RD-A1, due out in Japan on July 14, features a 1TB hard drive (that's a thousand gigabytes), recordability for single- and dual-layer HD-DVD-R discs, and 1080p output. The Japanese will pay roughly $3,465 for the RD-A1. Hopefully we'll get a $3,500 bundle that includes a recordable disc.

  • Panasonic's first Blu-ray player, the DMP-BD10, will ship in September for $1,300, according to details released by the company today. That's squarely in the middle of the $1,000 price tag of the Samsung, Sony, and Philips players and the $1,500 bill for the network-media-savvy Pioneer model. Panasonic is pledging that the player will be firmware upgradable (via a company-supplied disc) to add onboard decoding for the two latest high-bandwidth audio formats that will eventually appear on Blu-ray discs: Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD.

  • Spurned by an altered release date on Sonystyle.com from August 15 to October 25, the tech blogosphere is reporting a delay for the company's first Blu-ray player, the BDP-S1. After speaking with a Sony representative, we did in fact recieve confirmation that the player has been delayed until October. When we pressed for information regarding the date change, we were told a "software issue" was the culprit. Vague reasoning aside, this puts the release of the BDP-S1 precariously close to Sony's November 17 launch of the $400 cheaper PlayStation 3 video game console/Blu-ray player.

  • In another instance of a company cutting itself off at the knees, Samsung tempered the release of its new Blu-ray player by announcing it's considering a combination HD-DVD/Blu-ray player. The company is hard at work at creating a dual-format-reading drive and will decide later this year whether to release it, pending the success of the HD-DVD format.

    Sources: Engadget (RD-A1), HD Beat (BDP-S1) and PC World (Samsung)