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Thursday, January 04, 2007
 Warner to Release HD DVD/Blu-Ray Hybrid Disc
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Message Text: Warner Brothers plans to announce next week a single disc that can play films and television programs in both Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

The company plans to formally announce the new disc, which it is calling a Total HD disc, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Executives at Time Warner and its Hollywood subsidiary hope to spur sales of new DVD players and movies by gaining the support of retailers and cajoling rival studios into making their film and television libraries available in both formats on a single disc.

Barry M. Meyer, the chairman and chief executive of Warner Brothers, said in an interview that the company came up with the Total HD disc after concluding that neither Blu-ray nor HD-DVD was going the way of Betamax anytime soon.

"The next best thing is to recognize that there will be two formats and to make that not a negative for the consumer," Mr. Meyer said. "We felt that the most significant constituency for us to satisfy was the consumer first, and the retailer second. The retailer wants to sell hardware and doesn?t want to be forced into stocking two formats for everything. This is ideal for them."

According to a patent filled last August at the U.S. Patent Office, Warner was brainstorming a new three-layer, double-sided disc that will feature a BD-ROM layer and an HD DVD-ROM layer on the one side, and a red-laser DVD-ROM layer on the other side of it.

Theoretically speaking, such a medium could be manufactured since the Blu-Ray and the HD DVD laser lens have a different Numerical Aperture, which means that the Blu-Ray data layer and the HD DVD data layer are not placed at the same level under the disc surface. The BD data layer is just 0.1-millimetres-deep on the top surface of a disc, while the HD DVD layer at a depth of 0.6 mm. The other side of the disc can normally have a DVD-ROM data layer.

However, manufacturing complexities do not allow Total HD disc to contain a standard format version, said Kevin Tsujihara, the president of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group. A new disc incorporating all three formats could be produced in the future.

Mr. Tsujihara described the new disc as an elegant way for studios to make their content available more widely "in a way that is not conceding defeat" for the format they have been backing.

However, it is not sure that the current Blu-Ray and HD DVD players will be able to read such a disc, given that the disc may not strictly feature the optical parameters of the HD DVD and Blu-Ray specifications.

Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the president of Time Warner, said the Total HD disc has a better chance of catching on than dual players. Research commissioned by Warner indicates that consumers are willing to pay several dollars more than current high-definition DVDs for a disc that works on both players. LG Electronics, and possibly other gadget makers attending the Las Vegas conference,
 
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