Washington: Sony Corp’s Blu-ray technology is close to winning the latest format war for home movie DVDs after a source at main rival, Toshiba Corp, said it was planning to give up on its HD DVD format.
The new discs promise consumers high-definition movies and up to five times more space than previous DVDs, but the two rival formats had put off shoppers, with players only able to use one or other type of disc.
That changed this year as HD DVD suffered a string of defections to Blu-ray by movie studios, such as Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros, and big retailers.
Sony and Panasonic products maker Matsushita Electric Industrial Co -- consumer electronics giants that fought head-on in the video cassette format battle of the 1980s -- are on the same side this time with Blu-ray.
Following is an overview of the latest video format battle, including specifications of each technology. The rival camps:
BLU-RAY: Sony, Matsushita, Philips
HD DVD: Toshiba, NEC Electronics, Sanyo Electric FORMAT
(*Capacity is for single-layer disc. GB stands for gigabytes)
|Blu-Ray||HD DVD||Current DVD|
|Capacity||23-27 GB||15-20 GB||4.7 GB|
HD DVD - Lower costs. With the same structure as current discs, HD DVD allows makers to use much of their existing DVD manufacturing equipment.
Blu-Ray - Larger capacity. Matsushita’s 25 GB single-layer recordable disc can hold 25 percent more data than the HD DVD equivalent. About three hours of high-definition programmes on terrestrial digital broadcasting can be packed in the disc.
Brief chronology of video format battle:
1975 - Sony introduces Betamax machine, the world’s first home video cassette recorder.
1976 - Matsushita’s Victor Co of Japan Ltd releases the first VHS machine.
1988 - Sony, major proponent of Betamax, says to enter the VHS market, ending the battle over video cassette technology.
1995 - Sony-led group agrees with competing Toshiba and its allies to unify first-generation DVD formats, skirting a potential format war.
2003 - Sony launches Blu-ray-based recorders.
2004 - Sony-led group buys U.S. media group MGM, boosting Blu-ray format.
2006 - Toshiba Corp rolls out high definition DVD players.
2006 - Microsoft Corp introduces HD DVD into its Xbox game machine and Sony offers a Blu-ray PlayStation.
Jan - Major Hollywood studios Paramount, owned by Viacom Inc, and Warner Bros Entertainment Inc, decide to exclusively release high-definition DVDs in Blu-ray format. Toshiba responds by slashing prices of its HD DVD players.
Feb 15 - Wal-Mart Stores Inc abandons the HD DVD format, rallying behind Blu-ray technology.
Feb 16 - Toshiba is near to giving up on HD DVD format for high definition DVDs, conceding defeat, a company source says.