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Several leading suppliers of laptops announced their multimedia machines that feature HD DVD optical drives in the recent weeks. The new laptops allow watching high definition movies and become available just in time for consumers to consider them during holiday season.

Acer, Asus and HP released their consumer-oriented laptops that feature HD DVD drives in the last week or two. All of the machines are fully built with multimedia in mind: they feature high-performance ATI Mobility Radeon X1700 or Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 standalone graphics cores as well as large – 17” or 20” – wide-screens and wireless controllers. Naturally, the new mobile computers are based on Intel Core 2 Duo and are also equipped with various technologies for co-operation with consumer electronics, such as HDMI outputs and HDCP copy protection.

So far Toshiba and Sony have also released their laptops with next-generation optical drives: the former utilized HD DVD drive, while the latter used own-developed Blu-ray drive. Along with the recently unveiled notebooks with HD DVD, there are now four manufacturers who use HD DVD and only one that equips its machines with Blu-ray discs.

Broader choice of HD DVD-equipped notebooks not only means that consumers will be able to choice a laptop with next-generation DVD drive at “democratic” price-points, but also may condition higher initial adoption rate of HD DVD, something, which may create snow-ball effect for the standard, when new adopters choice what early adopters already use and in 3 cases out of 4 it may be HD DVD, as Sony is struggling to make enough blue-lasers for its Sony PlayStation 3 console, which, according to market observers, limits the number of other Blu-ray components due to insufficient laser diodes supply.

Acer, Asus, HP and Toshiba are likely to benefit from having computers equipped with HD DVD in the lineup ahead of holiday season, as consumers are especially active until Christmas and those, who seek the latest technology may consider those notebooks seriously.

Traditional single-layer DVDs allow consumers to watch movies in 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL) resolution with Dolby Digital audio. The blue-laser discs will provide consumers 1920x1080 resolution as well as DTS or Dolby Digital Plus audio along with some additional interactive features.

Blu-ray and HD DVD formats compete for replacing the DVD standard. HD DVD discs can store up to 15GB on a single layer and up to 30GB on two layers. Its competitor, Blu-ray, can store up to 27GB per single layer and up to 50GB on two layers, but Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce. The HD DVD is pushed aggressively by Toshiba and NEC as well as being standardized at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies worldwide. Blu-ray is backed by Sony and Panasonic, which are among the world’s largest makers of electronics. Among Hollywood studios HD is supported by Warner Bros. Studios, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, whereas Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox endorse Blu-ray.

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