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HD DVD continues to lose the advantage of being the first next-generation format for content distribution as Toshiba announced the delay of commercial launch of appropriate players in Japan, following similar postponement in the United States. Toshiba, the main driving force behind HD DVD, announced that the launch delay in Japan was conditioned by the issues with copyright protection technology.

According to the statement by Toshiba, before the company proceedes with the commercial launch of its HD DVD players, it wants copy protection management system called AACS (Advanced Access Content System) to be finalised first. Various industry participants are in the process of finalizing the last details for implementation of AACS. Because the DVD Forum has adopted AACS as an integral part of the HD DVD format, Toshiba will launch its HD DVD products only after AACS is finalized.

“Toshiba is currently in the final phase for commercialization of HD DVD players, the highly anticipated next generation optical disc system, and has been targeting a Japanese market launch by the end of this year. We have completed the design of HD DVD players for the U.S. and Japanese market and are ready for volume production at our manufacturing facilities in Japan,” a statement by the company reads.

Toshiba plans to launch HD DVD players and notebooks with HD DVD drives in Japan promptly following the implementation of AACS into hardware and software products, while also taking into consideration the optimum timing for marketing hardware and software. “We continue to plan for a first quarter 2006 launch in the U.S.,” the company said.

Toshiba planned to release HD DVD players in the Q4 2005, but decided to postpone the release in the USA till February or March, 2006, when content providers are ready.

AACS is integrated into players and discs to secure content from illegal copying and thereby assure that consumers can enjoy the benefits of the widest possible distribution of high-quality, high value-added content.

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