Samsung delays Blu-ray as Toshiba launches HD DVD

By Craig Zammit

KOREA: Samsung has unexpectedly delayed the launch of its next generation Blu-ray DVD player until 25 June 2006 despite Toshiba launching its rival HD-DVD player in Japan last week and North America this week.

Samsung stated additional testing is required before its product is released. This latest blow to the Blu-ray camp follows Sony’s decision to delay the PlayStation 3 console, which also contains the next generation optical drive, until November this year.

Interestingly, Sony has begun taking pre-orders for its Blu-ray player – the BDP-S1, which is expected to retail for approximately $US1,000.

While Samsung believes it will still be the first company to release the Blu-ray player in the US, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Lionsgate Films will be looking to release their first Blu-ray movies on Samsung’s initial launch date – 23 May 2006, which means there may be no available device on which to play them.

And despite Samsung announcing late last year that it would commit itself to both formats in the next generation DVD battle, it seems it may have made its choice, with the Blu-ray delay a hiccup in its plans.

Toshiba on the other hand, has commenced selling its HD-DVD in Japan, and while the player isn’t exactly tiny (about the double the size of standard generation DVD players), early reports suggest the response to the technology has been positive.

Toshiba’s Australian corporate commercial supervisor, Jonathan Peart, told current.com.au that while nothing is yet confirmed, Australia should hope to receive its first Toshiba branded HD-DVD by the end of the year.

“We are hoping for a release in Australia by the end of the year, but at the moment nothing is confirmed,” Peart said.

HD-DVD is supported by DVD’s inventor Toshiba as well as NEC, Intel and Microsoft. Blu-ray is supported its developer Sony as well as Panasonic, Pioneer, LG Electronics, TDK, Sharp, Thomson, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, HP, Dell, Apple, Philips as well as Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney and Warner Bros.

Industry analysts believe that, like the launch of a next generation video gaming console, a wide range of software is required for a successful release of both high definition optical disc formats.

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