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As Dust Settles in Blu-ray War, Another Format Emerges

No sooner than the dust has settled from the HD disc war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, another format is trying to become a player in the HD disc market, HD VMD, according to the New York Times on Monday.

New Medium Enterprises in London says that its HD VMD system, based on the older red wavelength laser, will cost less but have quality equal to Blu-ray.

In this case, the target is the market for lower cost discs and players. "We do not intend to take on Blu-ray," according to Shirly Levich, New Medium�s vice president and product development manager. "We see VMD as a natural extension of mass market DVD product enhanced to HD capabilities. We shall not rekindle the format war."

The company currently has no agreements with any major U.S. movie studios or distributors such as Wal-Mart. Instead, the target is owners of movie rights in China, India and Spain for subsequent distribution in Australia, China, India, Central Europe, Russia and Scandinavia. Players costing as little as US$90 would make a profit for the company.

The chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association, Andy Parsons, was left unimpressed. He pointed out that it’s a bad assumption to assume that Blu-ray players will remain forever too expensive for mainstream buyers. "I�m sure we�ll eventually be able to charge $90 for a Blu-ray player," he said.

American buyers had a chance to go for the cheapest possible HD disc players and enough of them blinked that HD DVD failed. Even so, there may be a short term foreign market for the HD VMD format.

A check with Target in Denver over the weekend showed that they have cleared their shelves of most HD DVD movie titles. Only a few remain and are for sale at a reduced price. Barnes and Noble in Denver is preparing to seriously ramp up their selection of Blu-ray movies in the next month. It’s unlikely that retailers in the U.S. will show the slightest interest in HD VMD, but should low cost HD VMD players from China make an apperance in discount stores in the U.S. at some point, caveat emptor.

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