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Hollywood Embraces HD DVD

HD DVD is gaining momentum with Hollywood studios. Several studios have announced their intentions to go with the Toshiba format, among them New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Brothers Studios, according to a Toshiba press release from Tokyo.

The endorsements came almost simultaneously with a November 29 announcement from Universal Pictures that it would make future titles available in the high-definition format. Approved by the DVD Forum, a technology consortium of more than 230 companies, HD DVD is an optical disc format whose high data density—30GB on a 5" disc—enables high definition movie content, multichannel/multilingual audio, advanced accessing features, web connectivity, and " robust content security technology," according to the announcement. HD DVD should also be backward compatible with standard DVDs, insuring the continuing value of existing movie libraries.

"We are delighted that the HD DVD format has been independently endorsed by Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, New Line Cinema, and Warner Bros. Studios," said Toshiba president and CEO Tadashi Okamura. "We sought to contribute to development of the format through a close dialogue with Hollywood studios and extensive technical discussions within the DVD Forum, an approach that has been validated by these endorsements.

"HD DVD offers the necessary combination of picture quality, content security and advanced features, including interactivity, plus reasonable manufacturing costs. We believe this is why HD DVD is gaining broad acceptance and has won the support of each of these four leading studios," Mr. Okamura explained. "Endorsement of HD DVD by these leading Hollywood studios is a great impetus to assuring the timely launch of HD DVD and to assuring that consumers have a range of attractive choices in both hardware and software. Major Hollywood studios are expected to release a number of movie titles, including new releases, to support the smooth progress of HD DVD in its initial year. Hundreds of other titles will also be available from other international content holders."

The DVD Forum approved version 1.0 physical specifications for HD DVD-ROM in February 2004, followed by version 1.0 of the HD DVD-Rewritable format in September 2004. Completion of the HD DVD-R, a one-time recordable format, is expected by year's end. HD DVD players should become available in late 2005 and widely available in 2006. Toshiba plans to launch its first HD DVD products, a CE player and recorder, in the fourth quarter of 2005. The company also plans to release notebook PCs with a built-in HD DVD drive at the end of 2005.

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