DVD Forum OKs Toshiba-NEC Format

Toshiba and NEC have emerged victorious from a prolonged campaign to gain approval for their blue-laser-based high-definition optical disc system. Known as HD-DVD, the system was approved for read-only applications by the DVD Forum on December 8.

The approval is a turnaround for HD-DVD. The DVD Forum's steering committee rejected the proposal last summer. Gaining supporters in the interim, the format is claimed to be compatible with standard DVD discs, players, and recording equipment. Its backers are still working on specifications for a rewritable version of HD-DVD, to be submitted for approval later.

In approving read-only HD-DVD, the Forum gives credibility to the format, the primary competitor to the so-called "Blu-ray" format, backed by Sony, Philips and Matsushita. Proponents of HD-DVD claim more cost effective read/write operations and the advantage of using standard DVD manufacturing equipment. HD-DVD backers also claim that the high-capacity discs, containing approximately 25GB of data, won't need "caddies" or protective sleeves to prevent damage from fingerprints or scratches.

Toshiba may demonstrate its HD-DVD technology at next month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES). NEC may introduce HD-DVD equipped personal computers by fall 2005, company officials stated.