- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 7, 2007

LAS VEGAS — South Korea’s LG Electronics gave the world a peek yesterday at a dual-format DVD player it thinks will quell the format war and win the hearts of consumers.

LG North America division President Michael Ahn, flanked by large flat-panel television screens, proudly described how the Super Blue Multi Player showed videos in competing Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD high-definition formats.

The players will go on sale in the United States next month for a suggested retail price of $1,199.

“It will be much more convenient to our consumers,” Mr. Ahn told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show, which formally opens today. “They were confused with two formats and hesitated to buy a single player, but we gave them the solution.”

LG executives proclaimed the player a “historic flagship device.”

“We have been a member of the Blu-ray camp, but we recognized that the consumer needs something more,” said LG Chief Technology Officer H.G. Lee.

The player is as easy to use as current digital video disc players, Mr. Lee said, adding that LG’s player can handle all the interactive features for Blu-ray but falls short on some HD DVD interactive features.

Since the Japanese companies Sony and Toshiba launched competing technologies, Blu-ray and HD DVD, companies have been battling to convince consumers that their product should become the dominant format.

In a replay of the VHS-Betamax battle between two types of videocassette tape in the late 1970s, the two DVD formats offer cinematic-quality images and interactive entertainment, but they are incompatible, forcing consumers to choose one.

“We will continue at this stage to concentrate on the second generation of the HD DVD market,” Akio Ozaka, head of Toshiba’s U.S. consumer products division, said after introducing the Japanese company’s newest offering in Las Vegas. “We will stick with the HD DVD.”

Analysts attending the Consumer Electronics Show cautioned that LG might be overly optimistic regarding the potential of its new player because its suggested price was higher than many new televisions.

A new model Toshiba HD DVD player introduced yesterday was priced at $599, a cost the company said it thought would shift the appeal from “early adopters” of technology to the “early majority” of gadget buyers.

Toshiba executives welcomed the notion of Warner Bros. selling films on dual-format DVDs, saying it was a “great idea” bound to get more people buying high-density players.

Movie studios, which are releasing high-definition DVD films, have feared the player battle may delay adoption of the format, which they hope will recharge the sluggish DVD market.

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