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UPDATE: Adding background details.

Pioneer, whose Blu-ray disc player has not been launched yet in the U.S. or Japan, said at a press conference that the device will not debut in Europe until after January, 2007. It is uncertain whether Samsung will be able to bring-in its BD-P1000 to the European Union earlier than that, but if not, HD DVD will have several months lead over the competing standard.

At a briefing in Germany, Pioneer, who recently indicated it would concentrate on Blu-ray devices, said it still had no “concrete” plans for a European launch of its Blu-ray disk player, but implied that the January 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Blu-ray supporters hope to offer movie-players in bulk, would “lay the ground” for a Europe launch, according to DPA news-agency.

Toshiba, the main pusher of HD DVD, insists it would be ready to sell its HD DVD players in the European Union when trade fair IFA show opens in Berlin, Germany, in early September. In addition to Toshiba, Thomson, who also commercially ships its HD DVD player in the U.S., may be ready with the roll-out of its HDV5000 in Europe.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Sony, who is the main supplier of Blu-ray laser diodes for Royal Philips Electronics, BenQ and Lite-on IT, and Nichia still blame low yields for inability to supply enough laser diodes to optical disc drive makers.

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.

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.

ABI Research believes that Blu-ray players alone will account for only about 30% of the global high-definition DVD player market in 2006, which leaves HD DVD a huge 70% chunk.


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