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Best Buy To Recommend Blu-ray Hi-Def Video

The consumer electronics retailer said it will showcase Blu-ray hardware, DVD titles, and software products in its stores and online in the United States, dealing another big blow to the competing HD DVD format backed by Toshiba.
Best Buy says it will begin in early March recommending Blu-ray disc players and other products that support the Sony-backed high-definition video format, dealing another big blow to the competing HD DVD format backed by Toshiba.

The consumer electronics retailer said it would prominently showcase Blu-ray hardware, DVD titles, and software products in its stores and online in the United States. "Our decision to shine a spotlight on Blu-ray Disc players and other Blu-ray products is a strong signal to our customers that we believe Blu-ray is the right format choice for them," Brian Dunn, Best Buy's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement released Monday.

Dunn said the company believes customers would benefit from a widely accepted single format by eliminating the confusion that ensues when having to choose between two competing and incompatible technologies. "Because we believe that Blu-ray is fast emerging as that single format, we have decided to focus on Blu-ray products," Dunn said.

Consumers have been shy about buying high-definition DVD players and titles because of the format battle reminiscent of the VHS-Betamax competition in the early days of VCRs. "We believe our move to feature Blu-ray should help consumers feel confident in their hi-def content choices," said Mike Vitelli, Best Buy's senior VP for home solutions.

Best Buy is the latest high-profile company to announce support for Blu-ray. Netflix on Monday said it plans to stock high-definition videos in the Blu-ray format exclusively. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announced last month that it would release all of its high-definition titles in the Blu-ray format by year's end.

Warner Bros. accounts for 20% of DVD sales in the U.S. Its support of Blu-ray led many analysts to believe that proponents of HD DVD had lost, and Blu-ray would be the sure winner. The latest rejections extend Blu-ray's lead further.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment also have backed Blu-ray, while Paramount Home Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment continue to publish in the HD DVD format.

Among player manufacturers, Sony, Hitachi and Philips favor Blu-ray, while Toshiba and NEC support HD DVD.

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