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Universal goes online to win HD DVD votes

Studio adds web-enabled content into titles

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Universal has announced a series of new interactive features for HD DVDs. It claims the new internet infrastructure allows users to take advantage of web-enabled HD DVD players, and sounds strikingly similar to the BD Live facility for Blu-ray.

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U-Shop: HD DVD fans will have direct access to film content and merchandise

The four new features - U-Shop, Features/Download Center, Best Buddies/My Scenes and Customer Support - will be accessible via most forthcoming Universal HD DVD titles, and by players able to access the film studio’s website.

U-Shop is a portal where users can buy film-specific products directly through their HD DVD player, like, say, limited edition Millennium Falcon models. The Features/Download Center is a library of film stills and will be awash with downloadable film trailers and games. Users can also sign themselves up for newsletters through it.

Best Buddies/My Scenes launches in December and allows users to share their favourite movie clips with like-minded friends. Users can manage their list of pals directly from their HD DVD player or a PC.

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My Scenes: share movie clips with your mates

And if all this goes kaput, then the Customer Support section contains error code explanations to help identify hardware or software issues, step-by-step instruction manuals and links to company support sites, such as that of HD DVD backer Toshiba.

Godly comedy flick Evan Almighty will be one of the first titles to incorporate the new interactive features. For example, users need only click on a special link from the disc’s main menu and they will be directed to U-Shop where they can buy a rain barrel, as featured in the film, for $134 (£69/€94).

Blu-ray has already unveiled a similar service, dubbed BD Live or Profile 2.0, which adds network connectivity to the list of mandatory functions of Blu-ray players. In August, Daewoo launched the DBP-1000, which supports the full BD specification and access to BD Live.

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