CES - Toshiba plans aggressive HD DVD push at CES

Companies backing HD DVD plan a joint announcement on Jan 7; companies for Blu-ray plan to announce on Jan 8

Toshiba is planning an aggressive push for the HD DVD format at next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a senior executive said last week.

A group of companies supporting the HD DVD format will hold a news conference on Jan. 7 on the eve of the massive consumer electronics exhibition to announce their plans for 2007, Yoshihide Fujii, president and chief executive officer of Toshiba's digital media network company, said Thursday.

Toshiba, which is the biggest backer of the format, will join the news conference and plans an announcement but Fujii wouldn't disclose what it will be.

The company launched its first HD DVD players at CES in January 2006. One player, the HD-A1, was priced at US$500 and a second player, called the HD-XA1, cost US$800. Two second-generation players, the HD-A2 and HD-XA2, hit shelves this month at US$500 and US$1,000, respectively.

When asked if Toshiba would be announcing cheaper players Fujii remained tight-lipped on the company's plans but said, "At first I though the price threshold is US$499. Maybe coming next is US$399 and after that is US$299." He didn't give a timeframe for this possible drop in prices.

While both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc have appeared in stores during 2006 sales of both formats remain relatively low. Prices of compatible machines are high and the formats continue their battle. That means consumers buying either format risk being left with a machine on the losing side that could end up being nothing but an expensive door-stop in a few years.

Companies backing the Blu-ray Disc format plan their own joint announcement at CES on Jan. 8.

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