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Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Toshiba Bets on Chinese HD DVD Format

The establishment of the China High Definition DVD (CH-DVD) format is one of the few weapons left for Toshiba against rival Sony, at a time where the high-def format war seems to phase out.

Backed by the DVD Forum, Toshiba has been actively preparing the Chinese market for the introduction of the Chinese version of HD DVD in mainland China. The company together with some global HD DVD backers and Chinese companies set up the China High Definition DVD Industry Association on September 7, 2007, in an attempt to promote the mass production of China High Definition DVD (CH-DVD).

But the beginning of 2008 turned out to be unfortunate for the Japanese company, with major studio Warner Bros. jumping to the Blu-ray Disc camp and leaving the competing HD DVD format with a dwindling base of Hollywood support.

Although the lack of HD DVD film content could eventually not allow the HD DVD to establish itself in the major Chinese market, Toshiba may still have some have some chances through the China High Definition DVD.

The basic advantage of the HD DVD format over the rival Blu-ray is the lowest prices of the players. The goal for the CH-DVD format is to maintain lower production costs of the upcoming HD-DVD players than the imported Sony and Pioneer-branded Blu-ray devices. Towards this direction, the China High Definition DVD Industry Association is examining the possibilities to integrate the Audio and Video Coding Standard (AVS) in the HD DVD player decoder chip.

Plenty of domestic companies in the China High Definition DVD Industry Association are preparing to rollout HD DVD players during 2008. Some of the products, priced at no more than CNY 3,000 ($418), will be available in the market in the coming March, according to Lu Da, an official of the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center (OMNERC).

On the other hand, the Blu-ray camp has also tried to enter the Chinese market. Pioneer-branded Blu-ray players have been provided to Chinese customers since the past year. However, the pricey CNY 14,800 ($2,058) has kept any potential buyers away. Since January 24, 2008, the first CNY 4,990 ($694) Blu-ray DVD player catering for the Chinese customers, launched by Blu-ray backer Sony, has been available on the shelves of the leading Chinese household appliance retailers.

The Toshiba brand is expected to keep aloof from the Chinese HD DVD player market, said Toshiba China Co., Ltd. last week, according to a report on Sinocast China business directory. This means that the largest HD-DVD player supporter is not going to make a foray into the Chinese market in order not to affect the sales of the Chinese manufacturers.

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