Toshiba said on Tuesday it will delay the year-end Japan launch of its next-generation HD DVD players to address copy protection issues, potentially undermining its advantage as the first supplier to put such machines on the market.
The Japanese company had said in September
the domestic launch might be postponed until after December. A spokesman for Toshiba said it would continue to push for a U.S. launch in the first quarter of 2006, most likely some time between February and March.
Toshiba said in a statement it would not launch the products until the last details on copy protection management systems, called AACS, or advanced access content system, were finalized.
"I cannot say when the AACS issues will be resolved," the spokeswoman said. "But it's hard to think the launch in Japan will come after the U.S. launch."
It seems that the although the rival camps (Sony and Toshiba) are still vying for supremacy, the duel has turned out to be more like a war of the words and statements.
Currently, a significant part of the CE industry and seven movie studios are backing the Blu-ray Disc. However, several companies support both camps. These companies include Warner Bros., Paramount and Thomson. In addition, a significant part of the IT industry also supports Blu-ray, except Microsoft.
The Blu-ray Disc Association gave an update on their blue laser technology at the Twentieth Century Fox Studios on November 29.
Spoksmen of the BDA consortium claimed that both formats will co-exist for several years to come with new BD players supporting both formats.
The Blu-ray consortium also underlined the capability of Blu-Ray players to play back both Blu-ray discs and standard definition DVDs, as well as the possibility to support hybrid double-layer Blu-Ray discs that would hold a standard definition movie in one layer and Blu-ray content in the other. Note that the rival HD DVD camp had firstly proposed the idea of an HD DVD hybrid disc, but it would require end user to flip the disc over to play a standard definition or high definition version of the same movie (single layer, double-sided).
The Blu-Ray camp also expects the finalization of the AACS specifications, in order to include the so-called Mandatory Managed Copy (MMC) in the Blu-ray Disc format.
At the same event, the BDA also discussed the BD+ content protection scheme, and clarified that it will be transparent to the end user. The BDA spoksmen pointed out that an internet connection will not be required for BD+ to operate or playback of any BD title. It was further noted that BD+ will not interfere with mandatory managed copy.
However, some of the Blu-ray Disc players will also include internet capability for the downloading of content related to the movie such as trailers, commentaries etc. Complete movies could not be downloaded.
At the PC part, Pioneer, Samsung, LG and Philips/BenQ have plans to ship PC Blu-ray Disc drives in early spring, with Pioneer and Philips to be possibly the first.
The members of the Blu-Ray consortium will officially unveil specific launch plans at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.