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Paramount Two-Times DVD Format

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Paramount Home Entertainment, nearly a year after backing Toshiba’s HD-DVD format, has announced that Sony’s Blu-Ray Disc technology is also a viable suitor for the next generation high definition DVD format. The company plans to release content in both formats.

The move, intended to give consumers a choice in next-generation high definition DVD’s, makes Viacom Inc. subsidiary Paramount the first major content distributor to back both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats.

The company said the impending release of Sony’s PlayStation 3, which will use Sony-created Blu-Ray technology, had a driving influence on the decision, as PlayStation 2 was key in the acceptance of the current generation of DVD’s.

In the past, the chief objection to Blu-Ray technology, which offers nearly double the storage capacity of HD-DVD, centered around production cost, manufacturing concerns, and copy protection. Sony won Paramount’s favor after new data on these variables was made available.

The Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD debate has been fueled by a slew of major companies backing one format or the other, reminding many of the famous Betamax versus VHS videocassette war three decades ago.

As of now Toshiba’s HD-DVD, a build on the current DVD format, is backed by major players such as Microsoft, Intel, Universal Studies, Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, HBO, and Sanyo. Sony’s Blu-Ray enjoys the support of Walt Disney, News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, and now Paramount.

Many expect that the consumer will ultimately decide which format wins in the end, if there need be a winner, as both formats may be able to co-exist-a development that will split the market.

The first HD-DVD machines are scheduled for release at the end of the year in Japan, Blu-Ray to be made available in 2006 and tested via Sony PlayStation 3.

Paramount Two-Times DVD Format
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