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Studio to end Blu-ray, HD DVD war with dual-format disc

One ring to rule them all?

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Movie studio Warner Bros. will next week unveil an optical disc format capable of being played in both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD) machines, the company has revealed.

Warner hasn't provided details, but the disc, dubbed Total HD, is likely to be based on technology patented back in December 2005 but revealed last September. It's a dual-layer disc, with an HD DVD layer on top of a Blu-ray one.

Warner Bros. chief Barry M Meyer told the New York Times yesterday that the format is predicated on the fact there's no clear winner in the battle between BD and HD DVD, and one isn't likely to emerge for some time.

Total HD will appeal to content retailers, he added, who'll be able to stock one disc not two.

Well, yes, but only if all the other content providers agree with Warner. Many of them are siding with one format in the hope of steering market and consumers to a single technology. Signs are that's not happening, which is one of the reasons why LG, for instance, is to produce a dual-format player. Warner supports both formats, so it's a natural supporter of any technology that allow it to reduce its production costs. Paramount supports both BD and HD DVD too.

LG's machine is likely to be expensive, so Total HD is set to be pitched as a much cheaper alternative, though again, consumers are likely to pay a premium for it over single-format media.

Warner will formally unveil Total HD next week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. ®

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