Fri, Apr 22, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Sony, Toshiba hold talks on rival HD-DVD formats

AP , TOKYO

Sony Corp and Toshiba Corp said yesterday they were in talks about their competing standards for next-generation optical disks that will replace DVDs, in an effort to give consumers a unified video technology.

But both sides played down a report yesterday in business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun that said the Japanese electronics makers could agree to a compromise "hybrid" as soon as this month.

In the battle for a high-definition successor to DVDs, Tokyo-based Sony -- which also has movie, music and video-game businesses -- leads an international group promoting the Blu-ray Disc format. A rival group led by Toshiba backs the HD-DVD format.

Each side has the support of several big electronics makers and movie studios.

The rivalry could cause a battle reminiscent of the fight in the 1980s in video-cassette recorder standards, between the Sony-backed Beta and VHS supported by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, which makes Panasonic brand goods. VHS eventually won that battle. In next-generation DVDs, Panasonic is backing the Blu-ray format.

Blu-ray has more capacity with 50 gigabytes compared to 30 gigabytes for HD-DVD, but proponents of HD-DVD say their format is cheaper to make because the production method is similar to current DVDs.

The Nihon Keizai report was surprising because both electronics makers have repeatedly expressed confidence about their standards. They have been wooing Hollywood studios, and both manufacturers are believed to have placed their futures with their respective formats.

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