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Toshiba Corp. said on Thursday in Japan that it would start selling the world’s first HD DVD recorders for consumers as early as in July, 2006. While the pricing of the part may be lower compared to competing devices for Blu-ray discs, it will still be too expensive for mass market.

The consumer-oriented HD DVD recorder from Toshiba, which will be equipped with hard disk drive, will be available starting from July 14 in Japan for ?398 thousand ($3457), according to Reuters news-agency. Toshiba did not release any technical details about its new product, however, it is known that the part will be a bit more affordable than competing Blu-ray disc recorder (which uses special BDs in cartridges) from Sony, which retails for about ?450 thousand ($3908).

Typically, high definition video recorders which can burn high-capacity optical discs are meant for recording TV shows and other content broadcasted in high definition. However, the market for such devices is not very broad and it is currently unclear whether and if Toshiba has plans to release its first HD DVD recorder outside Japan.

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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