- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

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TOKYO — Two Japanese companies said today they have developed a DVD that can play on both existing machines and the upcoming high-definition players, raising hopes for a smooth transition as more people dump old TV sets for better screens.

Toshiba Corp. and Memory-Tech Corp. said their disc has a dual-layered surface that can store both types of data on the same side.

For consumers, that would eliminate the potential headache of having to own two types of DVD players: Both will be able to read such discs, though only the newer equipment can take advantage of the higher-resolution technology.

The discs, which took six months to develop, will be able to hold 4.7 GB in the current format and 15 GB in high resolution, Memory-Tech spokesman Masato Otsuka said.

Making the discs won’t cost any more than the companies now spend on producing current DVDs, Mr. Otsuka said.

The new DVDs rely on the HD-DVD format, which has the backing of the DVD Forum, an international association of electronics makers and movie studios. New DVD players using the format are expected to hit stores by late 2005.

Its competitor, Blu-Ray, is backed by Sony Corp., its Hollywood studio and News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group Inc. Blu-Ray has more storage space, but HD-DVD is expected to be cheaper to produce because its technology closely resembles current DVDs.

It’s still unclear which will become the dominant technology.

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