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Toshiba preps HD DVD notebook PC

But don't hold your breath - it's not out til Q4 '05

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Toshiba will release a notebook PC with an HD DVD drive this time next year, the Japanese company said today, returning fire after an initial salvo from Sony in the battle for the future of blue-laser optical media.

In August, Sony said it would equip its upcoming PlayStation 3 with a Blu-ray Disc (BD) optical drive. Toshiba sits in the opposing camp, its own blue-laser technology, jointly developed with NEC, having been adopted by the DVD Forum as the basis for HD DVD.

Toshiba's HD DVD notebook will be a high-end job, the company said today, but will be accompanied by a range of more consumer-oriented kit, including players and recorders, all in Q4 2005.

Ultimately, of course, drive mechanisms will evolve to support both technologies, but for now a fight seems increasingly likely. While the DVD Forum has the strength of its brand as its main weapon, the BD camp has Sony's PlayStation as a key marketing tool. The Japanese giant has sold rather more PS2s than Toshiba has laptops in the last four or five years, and is likely to sell even more PS3s than that.

If it does, Sony will have given content providers a big incentive to support BD for HDTV content over HD DVD. ®

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