Warner HD DVDs Officially Delayed; LG To Build Dual-Format Player

Three Warner HD DVD Titles To "Launch" HD DVD
The HD DVD launch is beginning with a whimper. Warner Home Video, the only studio committed to supporting the March 28th debut of HD DVD hardware has officially announced it will not have software titles ready until April 18th, citing technical issues as cause. While more titles are to follow in subsequent weeks, exactly three titles are currently announced for the new April start date, Million Dollar Baby, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Last Samurai.

In addition to the scaled back initial offering, Warner has also dropped its initial first wave of HD DVD titles from 24 to 20, and among those titles will beBatman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Matrix. And yet it's also been reported that starting in May, all Warner new release titles will be published day and date on DVD and HD DVD. Paramount and Universal, the other two studios supporting HD DVD, have yet to set firm dates to debut their HD DVD titles.

This is the latest setback for the HD DVD format regarding its attempts to launch ahead of the rival Blu-ray disc format. At CES 2005, Toshiba and the other companies and studios backing HD DVD announced at a gala event that HD DVD would launch in time for the 2005 holiday shopping season, months ahead of Blu-ray and with massive software support. Since then, the launch has been repeatedly delayed, and major studios once supporting HD DVD exclusively have jumped ship to Blu-ray.

Although Toshiba hasn't yet announced a pullback from its March 28th hardware launch, it's difficult to imagine consumers buying $500 players with no movies to play on them. And worse still, a mid-April launch puts HD DVD's launch barely a month ahead of the scheduled May 23rd launch of movies on the Blu-ray Disc format.

LG To Offer Dual-Format Player; Disney To Support HD DVD?
UAV reported in February that industry sources reported that LG Electronics might be working on a unique solution to the format war: a dual-format player that will serve up both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. On Tuesday that rumor was confirmed, with the Korean giant citing "later this year" as a target date. No pricing information was given.

Given the difficulty Sony itself has had integrating Blu-ray in its PlayStation3 game console, this plan sounds quite ambitious.

Way too early to tell, but some news sources are jumping onto statements by Disney's Robert Iger as proof that the Mouse, staunch Blu-ray supporter that it's been, might support HD DVD as well as Blu-ray. Iger was quoted in statements from a shareholder's meeting as saying the company was bullish on Blu-ray as the format of the future, but that the company "will probably publish in both formats."