January 4, 2007
LG Dual Format High Definition Players Add New Wrinkle in DVD Format War
News items are appearing that claim the end to the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray high definition discs. The claim is based on the announcement by LG Electronics that it will present a new player at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. This was predicted last year even before players for either format were released. Comments at the time, though, suggested that while technically possible, the cost in electronics and licensing would drive the price of a dual format player way up there. This player is expected to run about $1,200 or higher. If that sounds scary for a DVD player consider that the price tag is somewhere between the highest and lowest priced machines for either format.
No word yet as to whether the machine will play other discs such as CDs, VCDs, DivX, or other encoded formats. There are still a lot of legacy discs out there along with the convenience of current players that do display content. Some new high definition machines reportedly don't touch those formats, although that's likely to change as more imaginative equipment is released at more modest prices.
This development may signal some bridge in the format war, but it's not going to end it. Sony has invested too much money in their technology and marketing to add HD-DVD capability to their equipment. The same goes for Toshiba and their licensees. What remains to be seen is whether enough third party manufacturers can produce dual format machines at a price point that will create a demand which forces the opposing manufacturers to compromise. If it were that easy then Sony et al. and Toshiba et al. would have simply joined forces early on and walked away with bushels of money as most distributors would have preferred. But no. Each company may still get licensing fees for their respective formats but they can't be happy with the idea that there may not be total victory for their single format.
The dual format machine from LG and future equipment like it may favor the confused consumer not sure which format to buy. It still comes down to who produces what equipment, with what features, what studios release what content in what format, and at what price point. People are still going to have to figure it out for themselves.
January 4, 2007 | Permalink
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