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Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Toshiba to Release PC-use HD DVD Drives Next year

While Blu-ray Disc drives for PCs appear to the upper hand in the PC-use drive segment, Toshiba will also release half-height HD DVD drives next year.

Toshiba has not offered any PC-use HD DVD burners or drives since it launched a HD DVD drive model in the fourth quarter of 2006. Since then, the Japanese company has been conservative to release HD DVD drives for the after market (retail), focusing in the OEM market. The company delivers its slim-type HD DVD drives through its Quosmio notebooks, while Taiwanese notebook vendors, including Acer and Asustek, are also planning to offer high-end notebook PCs with built-in HD DVD drives later this quarter.

"We are concentrating for PC OEM because we believe this is the best way for HD DVD to be defacto-standard," explains Shigeyuki Miyazaki, Senior Manager of HD DVD Drive Product Planning, Toshiba. "Therefore, HD DVD Drive product for retail is now limited," he added.

On the other hand, LiteOn, Pioneer, Philips, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Samsung and HLDS have released BD drives, with HLDS to support both formats with its Super Multi Blue burners. LiteOn has also announced plans to release BD-ROM drive under its own brand soon, while Panasonic is also expected to debut a BD Combo (Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM) drive later this quarter.

NEC had also showcased HD DVD drive prototypes for PCs in various technology shows in the last couple of years, although the company's merge with BD-backer Sony in the ODD business (Sony Nec Optiarc) changed NEC's plans to release HD DVD products for PCs. NEC actually has no Optical Disc Division now, with the company (Optiarc) to currently promote Blu-Ray drives for PCs.

Looking at the ongoing high-def format war, Toshiba's policy to focus on the release of more affordable consumer HD DVD players did worked, with the Japanese company to enjoy exceptionally booming sales of its HD-A2 HD DVD player in the North America market. Next year, Toshiba is also expected to release PC-use HD DVD drives for the retail market.

"Now we can see HD DVD PCs are increasing quantity, so we are considering the release of Half Height HD DVD Burner Drive for both OEM and Retail from mid of next year as the second step," Shigeyuki Miyazaki added.

Asustek, NU from Taiwan and Buffalo from Japan are main players for HD DVD drives for after market.

The introduction of the first half-height HD DVD drives for PCs is also expected to increase the demand for recordable HD DVD media (HD DVD-R). Japanese optical media maker Mitsubishi Kagaku media will release its second generation HD DVD-R media (2x) soon, although the company has not plans to make HD DVD-RW discs.

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