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Toshiba joins European DVD battle

Toshiba has launched its new high-definition DVD player in Europe, marking the start of a battle for living room domination.

The electronics firm wants consumers to use their HD-E1 DVD system rather than the rival Blu-Ray format. Blu-Ray is being backed by electronics firms Sony, Samsung and Panasonic as well as a number of film studios. The tussle between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray is similar to the 1980s war between VHS and Betamax video, analysts said. Toshiba has forecast 500,000 worldwide sales of its HD-DVD player by March 2007. Its system will retail for about £450 (€671), roughly half the price of Blu-Ray. A more feature-laden HD DVD player from Toshiba - the HD-XE1 - is planned to launch from late January 2007 for around £649 (€968). Despite differences, both of the new DVD formats offer greater storage capacity than traditional players to cope with the increased size of encoded images needed for high-definition televisions. And both players have an internet connection, which adds further possibilities of downloadable extras and film teasers. HD-DVD discs contain up to 30 gigabytes (GB) of data, compared with 50 GB for Blu-Ray. Disney and 20th Century Fox are backing Blu-Ray, while Universal is supporting HD-DVD. Warner Bros and Viacom have said they will support both. With no agreement between studios, both formats may continue to exist side-by-side for a while, analysts said, adding that many consumers may put off buying a system until a clear winner emerges. (BBC NEWS)