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Wednesday, March 08, 2006
LG to Join HD DVD Camp

LG Electronics, one of the world's biggest optical drive makers, will support HD DVD as well as Blu-ray in the emerging war over the next DVD standard, it said on Wednesday.

Until now LG Electronics was firmly in the Blu-ray camp, together with most of the other big consumer electronics firms such as Sony, Philips, Dell and Matsushita's Panasonic.

LG is the second high-profile Blu-ray supporter to change position after Hewlett-Packard, the world's second biggest PC maker, decided last month to also support HD DVD alongside Blu-ray. LG expects to announce the first product later this year.

LG unveiled at CeBIT Blu-ray optical drives for use in combination with a personal computer, expected to hit the market some time this year, but the price had not yet been decided.

"It will be only in a few products (PCs). The product has not yet hit the sweet spot," European president James Kim said, referring to low prices which are needed to convince cost-conscious computer makers to include a Blu-ray optical drive in their products.

Support from the PC industry is important. In the first years after the DVD was introduced in 1995, around 70 percent of demand for DVD drives came from the personal computer industry.

HD DVD may also get a boost after Microsoft said it would offer HD DVD drives to go with its Xbox 360 games console.

Hollywood studios also play a crucial role in the outcome of the format war which is starting to resemble the VHS-Betamax video cassette wars of the 1980s.

"Both camps are still waiting what the software industry will do," Kim said, referring to the "software" Hollywood studios record on disks that contain films.

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