Warner The Latest on Blu-ray Bandwagon

The curtain may be falling on HD-DVD.

Just days after a leading high-tech research firm declared Blu-ray the
victor in the optical disc format war, Warner Bros. Entertainment Thursday
said it would release movies in the Blu-ray format.

Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner, said it will still support HD-DVD, which
is backed by a consortium led by Toshiba and includes support
from Microsoft and Intel.

But embracing Blu-ray, which is backed by a Sony-led group that includes HP
and Dell, broadens the support for Blu-ray to an extreme.

The move leaves Universal Studios the lone studio that hasn’t signed on to support Blu-ray. Paramount Pictures, Twentieth
Century Fox Film Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment
support the Blu-ray format.

Paramount Pictures made a similar move
earlier this month, expanding its support of optical disk formats to both
Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Movie studios claim they are supporting both in order to narrow the divide between the two formats. Tech vendors are pulling similar moves to ensure that the industry avoids another media format akin to the VHS and Betamax nightmare
of the 1980s.

Earlier this week, HP asked
the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) to include two technologies already
supported in HD-DVD in the Blu-ray format specification.

Such moves could lead to overwhelming endorsements of Blu-ray that it becomes
the default standard for the industry.

Blu-ray and HD-DVD use blue lasers that have a shorter wavelength than the
red lasers used in current DVD players. This allows discs to store data at
the higher densities needed for high-definition TV.

While DVD players equipped with either format aren’t expected until 2006,
Forrester Research has already tabbed Blu-ray the winner, citing
greater capacity and Java support, as well as its ability to be used in games and computers.

HD-DVD supporters believe they have an advantage because they will get to
the market earlier with their players and their discs.

Toshiba said in a statement late on Thursday that it was still working with
Warner Bros. on the commercial launch of HD-DVD.

“We recognize Warner Bros.’s participation in the Blu-ray Disc Association
represents the studio’s understandable commitment to listen to broad array
of opinions and to continue to make technical evaluations of each format,
and we are more than confident this will not affect timely introduction of
HD DVD content to the market,” Toshiba said.

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