Samsung Plans Blu-ray-HD DVD Disc Player

Though not the first, the player will allow consumers access to every HD movie title available regardless of the authoring format.
Samsung Electronics on Friday said it plans to introduce in time for the holidays a disc player that supports the two competing high-definition DVD formats.

The Korean company's Duo HD, or BD-UP5000, player will fully support HD DVD and Blu-ray, including interactive features within the discs. Samsung currently makes a Blu-ray-only player.

"Consumers are hungry for more HD content but are currently confused about competing formats," Dongsoo Jun, executive vice president of the Digital AV Division at Samsung," said in a statement. "Samsung's Duo HD player will allow consumers access to every HD movie title available regardless of the authoring format."

Samsung is not the first to announce it would offer a duo-format player. LG Electronics, also based in Korea, unveiled its device in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

By offering players for both formats, the companies are hoping to avoid a DVD war reminiscent of the VHS-Betamax battle that ushered in the VCR era. Sony eventually lost with Betamax.

Movie studios and consumer electronics leaders have taken sides in the current Blu-ray-HD DVD battle. Sony, Hitachi and Philips favor Blu-ray, while Toshiba and NEC support HD DVD. On the studio side, Sony, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, and Walt Disney Pictures are exclusively releasing DVDs in Blu-ray. Universal Studios is distributing high-definition content only in HD DVD, and Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures are releasing DVDs in both formats.

For now, consumers have yet to feel the impact of the competition because high-definition technology and content remains an emerging market of early adopters. With the exception of flat-panel TVs, the prices for many players remain too high for the mass market. However, most analysts agree that the market for HD movies sold in stores or over the Internet is unlikely to take off, if consumers are forced to choose between competing formats.

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