Two separate home cinema formats are set to battle it out to become the dominant successor to DVD.
Blu-Ray disc players are set to arrive in UK shops this week ahead of rival high-definition (HD) DVD models.
Both systems offer far greater clarity and storage capacity than existing DVD players but can’t play discs in the other’s format although they can play DVDs.
Samsung’s DMP-BD-P1000 launched in the US in June and goes on sale in the UK from today for around £999.
Samsung and Panasonic
A Samsung spokeswoman said the electronics giant expected to sell several thousand of the new machines in the UK before Christmas.
Panasonic’s DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray disc player is also available at around 50 Shop@Panasonic stores priced at around £1,299; it will also go on sale at John Lewis this week.
Blu-Ray discs have five times as much visual and audio storage capacity as standard DVDs.
Blu-Ray is also likely to get a boost when Sony’s Blu-Ray compatible PlayStation 3 launches in the UK next year.
Toshiba is set to launch a rival HD-DVD player next month and although the Blu-Ray discs can hold more than HD-DVD discs, the HD-DVD is much a cheaper system.
Toshiba has indicated that its first model will cost around £400, while a higher-end model will be available in December costing about £600.
Hamish Thompson of DSG International, which includes Dixons and Currys, said it would stock both new formats.
He said: ‘Both offer incredible picture quality. What makes this so-called format war a bit different is that both formats are based around digital content. It’s quite possible that there will be scope for both formats to coexist in much the same way as games consoles.’
Which? technology expert Dave Holes said: ‘It’s difficult to forecast which format will dominate – but a new disc has been patented that can carry both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD versions of a film (on separate layers) so perhaps it could avert a bloody format war.
‘It’s very early days. We would advise consumers to wait before leaping into one format or the other – and prices are likely to fall dramatically within the year.’