Good News/Bad News/Expensive News for HD Disc Fans

While format wars of the past have been good in the long run for innovation, they’ve been hell on consumer wallets. The latest example? Because of format wars in the bright new world of high definition DVDs, manufacturers have announced plans to make players capable of playing multiple formats’Blu-ray and HD DVD. That means consumers will be able to buy DVD discs at will, but the machine they play it on is going to cost more.

Samsung Electronics has announced that it will manufacture a player that can handle both formats. Last year Samsung introduced the first Blu-ray Disc player to consumers. Samsung’s Duo HD player is expected to be on store shelves in time for the 208 holidays. It will also reportedly support both next-generation formats of interactive technologies, HDi and BD-Java.

LG Electronics also has a dual-format player on the market. Home vid pioneer Warner Home Video meanwhile says it plans to introduce a Total HD disc for its upcoming releases that’ll have Blu-ray content on one side and HD DVD content on the other.

If needs be, Samsung says it’s prepared to make a stand-alone HD DVD player as well. “Consumers are hungry for more HD content but are currently confused about competing formats,” says Dongsoo Jun, executive vice president of the Digital AV Division at Samsung. “Samsung’s Duo HD player will allow consumers access to every HD movie title available regardless of the authoring format.”

Currently, Blu-ray software is outselling HD DVD software. HD DVD is supported by three major studios’Universal, Warner Bros. and Paramount. Warner Bros. and Paramount also support Blu-ray. 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista and Sony Pictures are releasing in Blu-ray only, as is Lionsgate. Blu-ray set-top players are currently available from Samsung, Sony, Phillips and Panasonic. Only Toshiba makes an HD DVD player. The machines retail in the $300 to $400-range. There’s no indication as to how expensive the dual format players will be.