Samsung to consider "dual Blu-ray/HD DVD player"

Chicago (IL) - Undecided between Blu-ray and HD DVD? Time is likely to wipe out one of the two, but if you don't want to wait and place a safe bet, a hybrid player may be the player for you. Next to LG, Samsung is the second company to officially confirm plans for such a device: The technology would simply be drawn from a joint venture with HD DVD backer Toshiba.

According to an article published by IDGNS, Kim Du-Hyon, an assistant manager in Samsung's home-platform product planning division, reacted to rumors about Blu-ray/HD DVD players that have been making rounds on the Internet for several months. "We don't have a plan to make an HD DVD-only player but are considering a universal player," he said. "We are preparing HD DVD [support] now and if we launch a universal player it will be the end of this year or early next year," Du-Hyon is quoted by IDGNS.

Samsung is the first company to be out of the gate with a living room Blu-ray player. Officially scheduled to launch on 25 June, several retailers have been selling the unit since 19 June in the U.S. (for a first look at the BD-P1000 see our article on DenGuru). The player arrived just about a month after the launch of Toshiba's first HD DVD player.

What makes the announcement of a possible Samsung dual-format player particularly interesting is that that Samsung and Toshiba - the companies with apparent technology leads in both formats - manufacture both Blu-ray and HD DVD devices in a joint venture under the same roof. As TG Daily reported back in January of this year, Samsung and Toshiba operate TSST (Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology) as well as TSST Korea. Toshiba owns 51% of the business, Samsung the remaining 49%. And while Toshiba stated earlier this year that it considers TSST as an "independent company" to develop both formats in a "neutral position," the joint venture may emerge as key strategic advantage for Toshiba and Samsung to cover all their bases.

Toshiba so far has been quiet about a possible hybrid or Blu-ray only player; however, if business needs dictate the production of such a drive, there is little doubt that the company will have easy access to the technology and will be able to bring a player/recorder to market within a few months.

So, where does that situation leave Sony, the main backer of Blu-ray technology? Sony has quietly built a safety net as well - just in case Blu-ray will not be become a success. In February of this year, the company announced to form a joint venture with NEC - called "Sony NEC Optiarc". The new company was founded in April and is divided into a 55% share for Sony and a 45% share for NEC. NEC is considered to be one of the leading developers of HD DVD drives today and theoretically could be supplying the technology to Sony.

At least up until today, Sony did not announce plans to actually take advantage of NEC's HD DVD technology.

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