Tue, May 02, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Local companies hoping new FVD format takes off


With the first batch of home-grown forward versatile disc (FVD) players set to ship to the US and Europe this quarter, Taiwan hopes to gain the upper hand in the race to develop the next high-definition DVD format, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) said on Sunday.

"We stand a good chance of promoting locally developed FVD players to the world as we have a head-start over competing products," said Huang Der-ray (黃得瑞), deputy general director of ITRI's Optoelectronics and System Laboratories.

The FVD format was developed by ITRI and local companies to rival next-generation DVD standards such as HD-DVD and Blu-ray, initiated by Toshiba Corp and Sony Corp respectively.

The local format has the potential to substantially lower domestic companies' royalty burdens when manufacturing DVD-related products if it is adopted internationally.

Huang said that a number of European and US vendors had shown great interest in launching FVD players in their markets after the institute showcased the products at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Negotiations are underway and shipments could top 100,000 units for some orders, he said.

The FVD players could retail for less than US$200 overseas in a bid to secure market acceptance, Huang said.

Huang made the comments on the sidelines of a Microsoft Corp press conference on the Windows Media Engineering Center. Launched in September last year, the center promotes the development of the FVD standard and other consumer electronics products, based on Microsoft and ITRI's technologies.

The first FVD players were developed by Taiwan Kolin Co (歌林) and Idar Electronics Co (宜達電子) in the fourth quarter of last year and retailed for around NT$7,000 (US$218).

Toshiba debuted the world's first HD-DVD players in Japan late last month, priced at ?95,000 (US$814) and ?100,000.

Samsung Electronics Co, the first company scheduled to sell Blu-ray DVD players, has postponed sales in the US till next month.

"HD-DVD and Blu-ray products are expensive due to high component costs. Our rivals' delays and high prices will give FVD a competitive advantage," Huang said.

The first-generation FVD discs have a capacity of between 5.4 gigabytes and 6 gigabytes.

The format uses a red laser, rather than the blue one employed in rival technolgies, to write information to discs. FVD also implements Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 compression technology to store up to 135 minutes of high-definition content.

While FVD players look set to take off overseas, Huang admitted that local companies and consumers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

Sales of FVD players in the first quarter totaled only around 50,000 units, and ITRI has lowered its sales target for the year from 5 million units to 1 million units.

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