Ricoh drive to do double duty in next-gen DVD fight

Ricoh drive to do double duty in next-gen DVD fight

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We’ve heard about the them-or-us mentality that is driving the next-generation DVD battle, with electronics giants and movie studios and even computer manufacturers lining up on opposite sides of the divide. Who do you prefer, Blu-ray or HD DVD?

Ricoh has taken a step toward straddling the growing chasm between the two camps by announcing that it will soon begin shipping a laser that can recognize and read both. Forget that you have a HD DVD player and go ahead and buy that Blu-ray copy of your favorite movie? No problem, Richoh says. The laser is expected to read standard DVD as well and, of course, CDs. The multiformat drives are expected by year’s end, and the company is thought to be showcasing them at the International Optoelectronics Exhibition in Japan this week.

Ricoh might be the first to market with such a product, but it probably won’t be the last. Samsung has been on the edge of announcing something similar for a few weeks now, but nothing has leaped out of the press office yet. Other companies are said to be working on such hybrids as well.

You won’t catch Toshiba or Sony making such things, however, because they are the leaders of the HD DVD and the Blu-ray camps, respectively. Toshiba has Microsoft on its side; Sony has Apple. Universal is backing Toshiba; Disney and Fox are in the Sony camp. Movie studios Warner and Paramount would seem to be in the Ricoh camp, embracing both formats.

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