At CES 2007, Coexistence Proposed For Hi-Def Disc Battle

With proponents of HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc both claiming at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that they were winning the high-definition packaged media battle, two firms floated ideas for simplifying the two formats’ coexistence.

LG Electronics used the CES outing, where both HD DVD and Blu-ray made their public debut in 2006, to reveal its plans for a machine that plays both formats. Scheduled for a March release, the company’s BH100 will carry a stiff sticker of $1,199, double the price of the cheapest single-format players from other companies like Toshiba and Sony.

As LG demonstrated movie playback from both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs at its CES press conference, HD DVD champions grumbled that the new device does not support their format’s “iHD” interactivity technology, used in menus and disc bonuses. (LG, a founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, fully supports that format’s menu and interactive tech in the BH100.) It remains unclear whether the company will market the player without full HD DVD compatibility (as well as certification from the DVD Forum) or whether iHD playback will be added to the commercial version.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video—which has lent equal software support to HD DVD and Blu-ray since the hi-def formats’ respective launches last spring—announced another take on industry compromise. The studio’s “Total Hi Def” disc carries HD DVD content on one side and Blu-ray content on the other. Each side of the disc could be single- or dual-layer, providing support for each format’s highest-capacity version; Total Hi Def discs have been tested and manufactured by Warner’s replicators.

Studios under Warner (including Warner Bros., HBO and New Line) plan to market Total Hi Def discs in the second half of 2007. The company is in discussions for rival studios to employ the technology as well.

“The Total Hi Def disc is about giving consumers complete choice, providing creators and artists the greatest possible distribution of their work, and helping retailers thrive in the marketplace,”

stated Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.