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HD DVD bash knocked on the head

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CES Here in Las Vegas ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the first casualty of Warner Home Video's decision to back Blu-ray is the HD DVD shindig scheduled for Sunday night. Clearly unwilling to face the press, the HD DVD camp have cancelled the event. Toshiba and co. are no longer in a party mood.

The HD DVD event is usually one of the most well-attended of the pre-CES dos, but presumably the industry figures who would have gathered to field the assembled hacks' questions don't want to face the inevitable demands to know how they can avoid becoming the loser in the next-gen optical disc format fight.

“We are currently discussing the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluating next steps,” the HD DVD Promotional Group said in a statement mailed out to the planned event's registered attendees.

“We believe the consumer continues to benefit from HD DVD's commitment to quality and affordability – a bar that is critical for the mainstream success of any format.”

Don't write us off yet, in other words, but this isn't fighting talk. The HD DVD PG has been dealt a harsh blow, and it's still reeling. Surely this is the very time the organisation needs to show it's not cowed? Just saying it's going aay to think about things isn't going to inspire confidence in the format.

Pundits will now turn their attention to which studio(s) will change sides - a move that will almost certainly signal the beginning of the end of the format they leave behind.

Until then, consumers now have to opt for both formats if they want to be able to any given HD movie. Chances are, no individual's requirements are going to be served by a single format. That favours Samsung and LG, companies that have both launched players capable of handling both formats.

Unless, of course, buyers become even more determined to wait it out until there's a clear winner.

And then Apple may announce that it will, at long last, begin offering Blu-ray Disc drives in its desktop Macs, either as options or as standard. It's been in the Blu-ray camp since March 2006, but has yet to back the format as fully as fellow travellers like Dell and Sony have. Maybe now it will, encouraged by WHV's jump.

Now that would really make Blu-ray's month...

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