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Toshiba to make Blu-ray players

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blu_ray_logo_4003.jpgIt has been rumoured for a while, bit Toshiba finally confirmed this morning that it is joining the Blu-ray Disc Association. Applying for membership means that it can now take its place alongside Sony, Philips et al as makers of Blu-ray players and drives for PCs.

Toshiba said: "In light of recent growth in digital devices supporting the Blu-ray format, combined with market demand from consumers and retailers alike, Toshiba has decided to join the BDA."

For Tosh this involves in chomping on a rather large pile of humble pie. It invented and developed Blu-ray's competitor HD-DVD format which for a while actually outsold its rival.

Of course there is an argument that says this is too little too late and that discs of any variety are doomed.

hd-dvd-bluray.pngAware that the Blu-ray market still hasn't really taken off, Warner Bros are getting a little desperate, and they're waving an olive branch of peace at people who bought HD-DVDs. They're going to let people mail the original box art for any HD-DVDs that they bought and swap them for the same title on Blu-ray.

It's not quite free, they're charging $4.95 per disc for the service, plus $6.95 shipping, but it's still much cheaper than buying all the new discs yourself. It might even be worth scanning the local bargain bins for the old HD-DVDs to send off, then flog the replacements you get sent. You won't be able to make a mint, though. It's limited to 25 swaps per household.

(via Den of Geek and @stuart_coles)

designer-sky+-boxes.jpg
These are some of the delightful new Sky+ boxes that Sky is unleashing onto the world in three days' time. Four designers have jazzed up the traditional box, Henry Holland, PPQ, Erdem and Julie Verhoeven.

Personally speaking, I think the green one, from Erdem, floats my boat. I'm sure, however, that my girlfriend would be quite partial to the black and white cat design from PPQ. They come with matching remotes, and will cost £75-£100. Credit crunch or not, it's important that your Sky+ box matches your living room, right?

Sky+ HD Designer Box collection 2008

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blu-ray-xbox-360-announcement-tonight-probably-not.jpgThe old, very old, boring and no doubt entirely untrue "Blu-ray Xbox 360" rumour surfaced over the weekend - and has already been SHOT DOWN by Microsoft. Again. We are stuck in a time loop where every week we write this very same news.

Gadgety blog TechCrunch started it all by running a news piece - or some might say HIGHLY IRRESPONSIBLE LIE - stating that Microsoft is planning to announce a Blu-ray Xbox 360 tonight. As in, today. This evening. June 9, 2008.

Microsoft has already denied having anything to do with Blu-ray, with boss dude Robbie Bach speaking to some American paper over the weekend and answering the following question about the next generation of Xbox:

AMERICAN PAPER: So no plans for Blu-ray in the next generation Xbox?
ROBBIE FROM MICROSOFT: No. There is nothing to even talk about right now with regard to the next generation. That is so far out that there isn't anything to talk about.

Robbie also generally dissed Blu-ray, using the phrase "I am not going to pay extra for that" when comparing Blu-ray to DVD. A Blu-ray Xbox 360 is not going to happen, no matter how much you wish...

toshiba.jpgThe battle for the discs may have been lost but Toshiba is not about to give up on the HD war so easily.

According to an insider, who is probably being dragged out and shot as we speak, Toshiba is set to release a DVD upscaler which to those uninitiated is a DVD player capable of boosting the output of a normal, standard definition DVD disc to a 1080p, Blu-ray challenging hi-def. Eat that Sony.

microsoft-denies-blu-ray-360-again.jpgYes, ladies and gentlemen! Because YOU demanded it! The return of the rumour you LOVE to read! The one, the only, the sensational, the UNSTOPPABLE Blu-ray Xbox 360 rumour! Back once again for a record breaking 12th consecutive week!

The latest news of the existence of a Blu-ray-packing Xbox 360 came from a Taiwanese news site which stated, in a rather matter-of-fact fashion, that Microsoft has placed an order with Pegatron Technology, a division of Asustek, for a batch of Blu-360s.

HOWEVER! As is usual when reporting this rumour every week, Microsoft soon stepped in to deny it - "As we have stated, we have no plans to introduce a Blu-ray drive for Xbox 360" an MS drone told Gamepro.

So, there you have it. An Xbox 360 Blu-ray player is being manufactured as we speak, yet Microsoft has no plans to ever sell it. What an awesome business plan.

(Via Gamepro and Xboxer)

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liteon-Bluray-xbox-360.jpgTaiwanese newsy blog Digi Times is 100% sure Microsoft's in the final stages of readying a Blu-ray version of Xbox 360, with local manufacturer Lite-On apparently ready to hit the big red button and start its machines pumping out Blu-ray drives for Microsoft.

Digi Times also went off on a wild speculation rampage, saying that MS would clearly have to sell any possible Blu-ray-packing Xbox 360 at a loss, thanks to the relatively high cost of those special little blue lasers.

That's some mighty brave talking from Digi Times, especially as Microsoft has said numerous times that it's not doing a Blu-ray drive, either as a standalone unit or built into a future Xbox 360. The lines have been drawn! Someone's going to end up looking a bit silly on the internet over this...

(Via Digi Times)

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hddvd.png
With the HD DVD Promotional Group dissolving, Toshiba abandoning ship, and precious few studios releasing anything on the format any more, you'd have to be totally uninformed and just a little bit stupid to buy an HD DVD player thinking that it was the future.

Enter two fairly benign entities -- online retailers and the Great British consumer -- which when mixed can be deadly (or at least, good for making expensive mistakes)

Still, surely we can rely on our helpful, informative, reliable, up-to-date online retailers to ensure that visitors to their web site don't make a stupid purchase they'll regret as soon as it leaves its cardboard and polystyrene womb?

You'd think...

Here's a roundup of some key (and not so key) Internet stores, and their current attitude towards HD DVD.

buffalo_BRHC-6316U2_blu-ray_hd_dvd_external_drive.jpg

It's not just LG sticking with both high definition disc formats, with Buffalo announcing their first external optical drive able to read and write to Blu-ray Discs, and read HD DVDs.

xbox-360-blu-ray-no-no-no.jpgClearly a bit bored of reading lies on the internet about what it may or may not be doing next week or month or year, Microsoft has come out all ANGRY and said it's 100 percent definitely NOT DOING a Blu-ray player add-on for Xbox 360.

"Xbox is not currently in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association to integrate Blu-ray into the Xbox experience," Xbox product manager Aaron Greenberg said in an interview with serious news blog Reuters.

So even though MS may be thinking about adding proper Blu-ray support to Windows in various other ways that "make sense," it's definitely not going down the Blu-ray route for Xbox 360.

Is everyone clear on that now? Or does Bill Gates have to come round to your house and tell your parents?

(Via Xboxer)

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dr_evil.jpgNow that the dramatic climax to the HD format war is past, Toshiba is starting to pick up the pieces. Naturally, it's expected to post some big losses after HD DVD's failed campaign against Blu-ray and the Nikkei Business Daily reckons it can put a figure on just how much it all comes too. Even more conveniently, it rounds out to make a good headline too, to the tune of $1 billion - or 500 million quid if you prefer.

Well, actually, it's 100 billion Yen. That's more like $976.75 million, but what's the odd $23 million here and there? It's all gone now, so not much point worrying about it, eh? (This is probably why I never became an accountant).

Toshiba hasn't confirmed these figures yet. But relatively speaking, it doesn't seem all that bad - consider that this figure is just a quarter of what Microsoft is believed to have lost on the original Xbox. And that wasn't even a failure. Kind of puts things in perspective.

In case you're still worried that this might be a portent of doom for Tosh, I wouldn't bother. Its operating profits for this year are still expected to come to about 250 billion Yen according to the same report. So... HD DVD 2 as of next year then?

Toshiba (via AFP)

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samsung_bd-up5500_scrapped.jpgSamsung has announced that they won't be releasing their second-generation HD DVD / Blu-ray combo player -- the BD-UP5500 -- after all.

Though Samsung have already said they favour Blu-ray, this is the first solid announcement that they're no longer pushing their hybrid players.

Their first dual player, the BD-UP5000, had a few problems and led to some disgruntled owners, so it's probably for the best.

It's not clear whether Samsung will continue to manufacture their first generation machine, though I'd presume a quiet exit would suit them best. Expect much more fanfare about future Blu-ray players from Samsung in due course.

(Via Blu-ray News)

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sony-hdvd-blu-ray.jpgBless the Swiss. Not only do they give the rest of the world chocolate, Swiss cheese, and beautiful people, but they're also offering HD DVD owners the opportunity to trade in their obsolete format for a Blu-ray player.

Surprisingly, it's Sony who're offering the trade, marking Switzerland as the first country on the map to do so. When buying the BDP-S500 or BDP-S300 players before the end of March, you can send Sony your defunct HD DVD machine, which will then be recycled, and in turn, 200 Swiss Francs (£97) will land in your hand as well as the Spiderman and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies on Blu-ray.

If you're considering snapping up some of those $99 Tosh players and flying to Switzerland especially to trade in 30 of the bad boys, you better think twice, as Sony will only accept players purchased before February the 29th.

(via Engadget)

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rock-dumps-hd-dvd-for-blu-ray-laptop.jpgHardcore power-laptop maker Rock has decided to dump its HD DVD-exclusive stance and let buyers stick Blu-ray drives in its range of gaming laptop beasts should they so desire.

Rock's clearly gutted CEO Nick Boardman said "We're disappointed that HD-DVD didn't make it and we value the support Toshiba has given us. Although Blu-ray has technical advantages, HD-DVD offers excellent value for money and lends itself well to the PC platform. Sony's marketing and business tactics however, eventually stole the match."

Even if you have a machine on order with Rock right now you can, in the words of Rock, "stick with HD-DVD, downgrade to DVD-RW or upgrade to Blu-ray."

Rock also highlights the price differential between HD DVD and Blu-ray, with the Sony NEC BC-5000A 2x Blu-ray combo drive costing over TWICE the price of an equivalent HD DVD unit. Why was it Blu-ray won again?

(Via Rock)

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dreamworks_hd_dvd_ball_and_chain_cut.gif

Yesterday, over at HDTV UK, I responded to the news that Dreamworks somehow remained tied to the HD DVD format, despite Toshiba effectively killing it off.

Today, Dreamworks has announced that it's killing off the HD DVD format, by not releasing any currently planned or future discs in the format. However, for either contractual or technical reasons -- I'm not sure which -- they won't be producing Blu-ray discs until the summer.

Yep, they could be sticking to the Law of the agreement with Toshiba, by not releasing anything in the "rival" Blu-ray format -- or they could possibly not have the technology in place to manufacture Blu-ray discs yet, though I'd think that's unlikely.

Whatever the reasoning, Dreamworks effectively won't be releasing any high definition disc titles for the next few months. Let's be honest, though, the HD disc market isn't huge right now. Perhaps the dust will settle after the format war, and by the summer things will look more positive for high definition in general.

(Via HDTV UK and Gizmodo)

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kozuka.jpgThe high-definition war is all over bar the shouting (and trust me, the Blu-ray camp is doing plenty of that). At least, it's over until Blu-ray comes up against digital distribution, which may wipe the smile off their faces.

In the meantime, Matsushita's Masayuki Kozuka - a key figure behind Blu-ray - has given an interview giving his take on why Toshiba pulled out of HD DVD, and why that format ended up losing the war.

Factors include Blu-ray outselling HD DVD for the first time in the US at the end of 2007, Warner Bros' defection to the Blu-ray camp just before CES, and rising sales of PS3 consoles. However, he thinks Toshiba's own aggressive HD DVD sales tactics sealed the format's fate.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows a smidgen of information regarding the events from the last two months' worth of HD DVD/Blu-ray torment.

With Toshiba's announcement last Tuesday that they were ceasing their involvement in the HD DVD format, all eyes were on Microsoft and their Xbox 360.

On Saturday, news leaked that the inevitable had occurred, and Microsoft would discontinue their external HD DVD drive, however they will continue to offer technical support and even repair the £99 device if needed. Don't give up hope on all those HD DVD discs you've spent the past year collecting, and if you fancy some more, eBay can definitely help you out with some pocket-friendly prices.

Anyone looking forward to Microsoft's inevitable announcement about committing the most fence-hopper-like of sins and converting to Blu-ray?

(via Gizmodo and HDTV UK)

For more Xbox-related news, check out our Shiny blog, Xboxer, here.


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Another series for Toshiba presented this week, the XV series is housed under the REGZA brand, and carries some new technology, including audio description, game mode and Active Vision LCD Picture Processing.

With the usual 32", 37" and 42" models available, they'll each have 1920 x 1080 resolution (that's full 1080p), three HDMI sockets, a digital tuner, and contrast ratio of up to 30,000:1.

All of Toshiba's new series debuted this week - the CV, XV and ZF, will carry the aforementioned Game Mode, which gives 1:1 pixel mapping using Exact Scan, and increases response time dramatically. Not only that, they'll also offer audio description, which will be better than normal subtitles, as it will give the tone of voice as well as other important details in conversations often not picked up in written commentary.

The XV series is replacing the X series, and will be available from March.

Toshiba

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LG has said it's going to carry on making HD DVD players, using such words as "convenience" and "consumer" to justify its decision to stick with the recently deceased format.

If we were to be cynical about it, though - and there's little we enjoy more! - we'd say that's because poor LG has a factory full of the things somewhere in Korea it's desperately trying to shift before they become worth bugger all.

But that's not what LG said. It would be a very brave company that came out and said it had a factory of things it needed to shift, pronto, before they're worth bugger all.

This is what LG actually said:

"LG believes that at this present moment in time, it is necessary to provide a player which supports both formats and therefore create simplicity and convenience for the existing HD DVD consumer."

So you should still be able to buy LG HD DVD players from new, in the shops, for at least a little while. Plus, of course, LG makes the awesome Super Multi Blue series of combined Blu-ray and HD DVD players, so it's likely HD DVD compatible equipment will still be supported and around in one form or another for years to come.

(Via Pocket-Lint)

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universal-goes-blu-ray-finally.jpgYour HD DVD player just got that little bit lonelier today, as Universal announced its dumping of exclusive HD DVD support in favour of Blu-ray.

Following HD DVD maker Toshiba's announcement of the death of HD DVD yesterday, Universal wasted no time in jumping fully on the Blu-ray wagon from the burning wreck of the HD DVD bus.

"The emergence of a single, high-definition format is cause for consumers, as well as the entire entertainment industry, to celebrate. While Universal values the close partnership we have shared with Toshiba, it is time to turn our focus to releasing new and catalogue titles on Blu-ray," said Universal's Craig Kornblau, the movie company's president of its Home Entertainment and Digital divisions.

The only question left now is... how long until lone HD DVD exclusive movie maker Paramount announces the ultimate - and final - climbdown and switches its movie disc box colour scheme to blue?

(Via News.com)

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