Toshiba Brings HD-DVD to Masses

Toshiba today began the official roll out of its long awaited HD-DVD format via the introduction of new players as well as HD-DVD titles from several studios. This launch effectively kicks off the next generation optical disc wars between the Toshiba/HD-DVD and Sony/Blu-ray Disc camps.

As reported in these stories on News.com and PC Magazine, sales of Toshiba’s HD-DVD players have been rather brisk. While it is too early to say how well received the HD-DVD format will be, especially in lights of delays on the Blu-ray Disc side, movie studios are hedging their bets nonetheless. As News.com pointed out, some major movie studios are backing just one format or the other, while others are backing both as they wait to see which format ultimately triumphs.

The sole studio backer of HD-DVD only is currently Universal Studios, who launched, or plans to launch shortly, ten HD-DVD titles. The roll out schedule includes Serenity (today); Doom and Apollo 13 (April 25); Cinderella Man, Jarhead and Assault on Precinct 13 (May 9); and The Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing, U-571 and The Bourne Supremacy (May 23).

And what will you get out of a HD-DVD title over the regular DVD version (especially at a $34.98 price tag per title)? Besides the obvious higher quality audio and video, there are also enhanced interactive menus which allow users to navigate and access menu options while a movie is playing. In the case of The Bourne Supremacy, for example, a feature-length picture-in-picture presentation simultaneously takes viewers behind-the-scenes with the cast and filmmakers as the movie continues to play on screen.