Electronics giant Sony is emerging as the likely winner in a format battle for the next generation of DVD players.
Chief rival Toshiba appears ready to ditch its HD DVD business after it confirmed it has begun a review of its next-generation video format.
HD DVD has been struggling to compete against Blu-Ray disc technology, which is backed by Sony, Panasonic, five major Hollywood movie studios and others.
Toshiba said that no decision had been made but acknowledged it had started a review of its HD DVD business strategy.
The Blu-Ray disc format has been gaining market share, especially in Japan, where studies showed more than 80% of the purchases were Blu-Ray.
Wal-Mart, the largest US retailer, recently said it would sell only Blu-Ray DVDs and hardware and no longer carry HD DVDs. And last month, Warner Brothers decided to release movie discs only in the Blu-Ray format.
Both formats deliver crisp, clear high-definition pictures and sound, but they are incompatible, and neither plays on older DVD players.
HD DVD was touted as being cheaper because it was closer to previous video technology, while Blu-Ray boasted bigger recording capacity than HD DVD.
Which? TV expert Mike Briggs said: ‘This is a blow for anyone who’s bought an HD-DVD player – they’ll be left with an expensive box and not much high-definition material to play.
‘But for everyone else, if Toshiba does pull the plug, it would mean no more format confusion and movie studios releasing films in just Blu-Ray. Ultimately we’d expect to see a boom in sales of high-definition equipment.’
He added: ‘If you’re looking for a player, there are some with a dual format. For instance the LG BH100 Best Buy plays both HD-DVD and Blu ray – so if the HD DVD format falls by the wayside you won’t be left with a very expensive machine and no discs to play back.’