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Toshiba Corp., a leading maker of consumer electronics, said that it would start selling its HD DVD player in Europe starting from mid-November, days ahead of Sony PlayStation 3 game console debut, which formally marks the start of competing Blu-ray disc player shipments.

For Europe Toshiba will offer HD-E1 HD DVD player, which is presumably different from HD-A1 and HD-XA1 players shipped in the U.S. The novelty will be priced at ?599 and will be available starting from November 15, 2006. According to a news-story from BBC, Toshiba will supply about 10 thousand HD-E1 players to the EU and will also add a new HD DVD player to the lineup in December, 2006.

Toshiba says it has already sold 50 thousand HD DVD players in the U.S. and Japan, and aims to sell 200 thousand by the end of the year.

Toshiba now has two HD DVD players in its lineup: HD-A1 that is available for $499 and HD-XA1, which retails for $799 and offers some premium features along with better design. It is uncertain why Toshiba decided to introduce a brand-new HD-E1 model for the European Union. A reason could be the fact that the company has to subsidize manufacturing of HD-A1 player, thus, lose money on every unit shipped.

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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