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HD DVD: big two to end second video war?

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MUMBAI: Electronics majors Sony Corp and Toshiba Corp are in talks about their competing standards for future optical discs that will replace DVDs, in an effort to give consumers a unified video technology.

But both sides played down a media report that said the Japanese electronics makers could agree to a compromise "hybrid" as early as this month.

In the battle for a high-definition successor to DVDs, Tokyo-based Sony -- which also has movie, music and video-game businesses -- leads an international group promoting the Blu-ray Disc format. A rival group led by Toshiba backs the HD-DVD format.

Each side has the support of several big electronics makers and movie studios.

The rivalry could cause a battle reminiscent of the fight in the 1980s in video-cassette recorder standards, between the Sony-backed Beta and VHS supported by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, which makes Panasonic brand goods. VHS eventually won that battle. In next-generation DVDs, Panasonic is backing the Blu-ray format.

Blu-ray has more capacity with 50 gigabytes compared to 30 gigabytes for HD-DVD, but proponents of HD-DVD say their format is cheaper to make because the production method is similar to current DVDs.

The media report was surprising because both electronics makers have repeatedly expressed confidence about their standards. They have been wooing Hollywood studios, and both manufacturers are believed to have placed their futures with their respective formats.

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