HD DVD group claims sales milestone

The North American HD DVD Promotional Group on Tuesday claimed a milestone: It said that 100,000 HD DVD players have been sold since the introduction of the format to the North American market a year ago. That figure doesn't include HD DVD drives in PCs or ones sold as Xbox 360 accessories, either.

HD DVD, backed by Toshiba, Microsoft, Warner Bros., HBO and other major players, is in a battle for the hearts and minds of consumers considering the switch to high definition media formats against Blu-ray Disc, an alternative format put forth by Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and other companies. Both formats offer substantially higher data storage capacities than conventional DVDs, making them better suited to carrying high definition movies and other large amounts of data.

Sony has made a major push into the market by offering its PlayStation 3 video game console with a built-in Blu-ray drive. Other Blu-ray Disc drives have also hit the consumer market in the past year. Panasonic parent Matsushita, Pioneer, LG and other major consumer electronics companies also back the format. With Apple sitting on the Blu-ray Disc Association's (BDA's) board of directors, the Mac's eventual migration to Blu-ray Disc seems obvious.

In fact, several companies have already stepped forth to offer Blu-ray-based data drives as add-ons and replacements for the Mac in recent months. And while native Blu-ray support is missing from Mac OS X presently, Roxio has added Blu-ray Disc reading and writing support to its Toast 8 Titanium disc burning software.

Toshiba has ratcheted up the competition against Sony by dropping the price of some HD DVD players to under US$400 -- still considerably more than a DVD player, but substantially less than the drives were a year ago. Analysts anticipate that prices will continue to fall as more units are sold, though it doesn't appear as yet that consumers are embracing one format over the other in droves. Many aren't anxious to get burned by spending a significant sum on a format that will ultimately be orphaned; others haven't made the move to an HDTV and don't see the benefit in investing a new high definition movie format until they do. Others are hoping that hybrid devices that work with both HD DVD and Blu-ray media will gain traction.

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