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High-Definition DVD to Miss the Holidays

Times Staff Writer

Scratch that high-definition DVD player off your holiday list.

After months of boasting that its next-generation DVD player would be on sale by Christmas, Toshiba Corp. acknowledged this week that the device would not hit store shelves until next year.

By missing the holiday shopping season, Toshiba’s HD DVD won’t have much of a head start on rival technology -- called Blu-ray -- that Sony Corp. plans to put in its PlayStation 3 game console.

Both formats offer high-definition images but are incompatible. Retailers, studios and technology companies fear a replay of the battle between VHS and Betamax 20 years ago.

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“By pushing the [release] back by a couple of months, we leave the field open for the hardware vendors, the software suppliers and retailers to focus efforts on making the most profound launch we can,” said Toshiba’s Mark Knox.

The company in recent weeks hinted that HD DVD might not be ready for Christmas, and a Toshiba executive Wednesday confirmed that the player would ship next year. It’s expected to cost about $1,000.

“We’re encouraged by this news because it’s lining up very closely to when we expect Blu-ray products to be ready for the marketplace,” said Josh Peterson, director of strategic alliances for Hewlett-Packard Co.'s personal storage business.

HP and Dell Inc. back Blu-ray; Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. support HD DVD.

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The delay may disappoint the early-adopter crowd, but analysts predict little harm to HD DVD sales.

“Even if they miss the deadline, it’s not critical,” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies. “Obviously they want the bragging rights to have this stuff out sooner rather than later, but the bottom line is, costs keep them away from mainstream consumers.”


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