Toshiba expected to pull plug on HD DVD

Toshiba expected to pull plug on HD DVD

Toshiba could surrender to Sony and put an end to the format war

Toshiba is expected to announce today that it will abandon its HD DVD standard of next-generation DVDs.

Reuters has reported that the electronics giant is in the final stage of planning its exit after a slew of reports that many retailers will no longer stock HD DVD discs and player. The deciding factor was the overwhelming backing of Hollywood for rival Sony's Blu-Ray technology.

The defection of Warner Brothers to Blu-Ray in January may prove to be the final nail in the coffin for HD DVD technology. Previously the studio had straddled the fence, releasing movies in both formats.

The company said it would abandon HD DVD in May, which brings the percentage of Hollywood movies in the Blu-ray camp to a commanding 70 per cent. For industry insiders, the fact that Universal also ended its HD DVD exclusivity arrangement and Paramount’s HD DVD contract has an escape clause sounded the death knell for HD DVD.

The war to become the standard for next-generation DVD technology has been long and bitter, dividing manufacturers and content providers into two camps. Backers of Blu-ray include Dell, games developer Electronic Arts and 20th Century Fox. Toshiba's HD DVD format boasts among others, Microsoft, Sanyo and Paramount.

Consumers are likely to welcome the end to the format war which echoed the VHS/Betamax war of the 1980s. Not knowing which format would triumph or if both could co-exist has made many people wary about buying the new players.

However if Toshiba pulls the plug on the technology, there are still a significant percentage of people that the move will affect.

These include people who have already plumped for the players or who have the technology in their computers. It will also have an impact on users of Microsoft's Xbox 360 console who have bought an add-on drive that uses Toshiba's HD DVD technology.