At the CES show in Las Vegas Sunday morning, LG Electronics gave details on a new dual-format optical disc player that may help resolve the ongoing war between the Blu-ray and HD-DVD high-definition disc
LG's innovative new product, the Super Multi Blue Player, will play both Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs from a single tray and single optical drive, which LG executives demonstrated by playing two Warner Bros. movies, first an HD-DVD version of "Batman Begins," then a Blu-ray version of "Superman Returns." The device, which will be available in early February for an estimated retail price of $1199 at Best Buy and Circuit City stores, will also play back conventional DVDs.
Dr. Hee Gook Lee, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics, says the Super Multi Blue Player is the result of LG's developments in optical pickup technology that can read both the blue and red lasers used on the different discs, the creation of a core chip set that supports a variety of video and audio formats, and embedded software that provides some of the Java-based interactivity common to Blu-Ray.
The Super Multi Blue Player won't provide all the interactivity that comes with the HD-DVD format, but Lee suspects that won't matter to most consumers, who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for one format to win out.
"Most consumers are confused and are not sure what format player to buy, and they are reluctant to buy player or content," says Lee. "We had been in the Blu-ray camp, but we realized that both formats are
here to stay."
Lee did say that he expects the formats to be eventually unified.
Of course, Warner Bros. is expected to unveil its own next-generation optical disc format, Total HD, on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Total HD discs are expected to be able to store movies in either Blu-ray or HD-DVD
formats and work on either type player. Total HD discs will also be able to play in the Super Multi Blue Player, according to Warner Bros.executives Steve Nickerson, SVP of worldwide marketing for Warner Home Video, and Chris Cookson, Warner Bros. CTO, who were present at the LG press conference.
According to Nickerson, Warner Bros. already has about 135 to 140 titles available on both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, though the mix of titles is different between the two formats.