HD-DVD is proving to be a presence across the pond.

At a press event today at the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover, Germany the companies of the HD DVD Promotion Group recapped a strong year for the high definition format and provided an overview of what customers across the region can expect in 2007. Adding to the global promotion structure for HD DVD, a new entity was also announced, the European HD DVD Promotional Group, Ltd., to bolster marketing efforts for the format as HD DVD gains momentum across Europe.

By the end of Q1 2007, more than 100 titles will be available throughout Europe. More than one-third of these titles come from European studios and none of them are currently available on any other high-definition format. The overwhelming majority of the discs are replicated locally. With more than 21 studios and distributors, 14 authoring studios and eight replicators producing HD DVD content and discs throughout the region, the number of titles is expected to increase rapidly throughout the year with an estimated 600 titles expected worldwide by December 2007.

"Our goal is to achieve global penetration of the HD DVD format, so a lot of work has gone into making sure that authoring houses and replicators across Europe were given the training and expertise they need to get up and running quickly allowing a wealth of European content to hit the market right from the beginning," said Yoshihide Fujii, Chairman of the HD DVD Promotion Group and President and CEO of Toshiba's Digital Media Network Company. "This will be a key differentiator for HD DVD in Europe for the foreseeable future. Combine that with a solid line-up of US titles and affordable hardware and consumers have a lot of options to create a home theater experience that is unparalleled."

Hollywood studios also made a strong commitment to the market and announcing the release of several great US titles including Babel, Happy Feet, and The Matrix. All of these titles will feature multiple language tracks allowing seamless viewing in a variety of countries. Studios also announced expansion into a greater number of European countries and are committed to announcing HD DVD titles on the same day and date as DVDs wherever possible.

Toshiba announced a new HD DVD player for the European market, the HD- EP10. This mid-range model, which features 1080p output, was designed to meet the increasing consumer demand for 1080p HDTVs. The new player, priced at 699 Euros, rounds out Toshiba's product line-up, and will be available in May 2007.

Attendees of the press event saw a live demo of HD DVD's new advanced interactive features, working on both multiple PC platforms and consumer electronics based players -- effectively showing the wide breadth of support for these features. HD DVD titles with advanced interactivity will take advantage of HD DVD's mandatory specifications for network connectivity, secondary video decoders and persistent storage. Titles using player memory as well as the secondary video encoder for picture-in-picture were shipping throughout 2006, and titles using network connectivity are expected to be available in 2007. Using Microsoft's HDi interactive technology, the live demo showed how to download HD trailers and other content from the Internet, synchronized storyboard playback seamlessly switching between full screen mode and story board and subtitle download. To date, HD DVD is the only format delivering titles using true picture-in-picture.

HD DVD's superior capabilities and long-term potential continue to win significant acceptance in the global market. In 2006, HD DVD won a clear edge in the PC market. According to Techno Systems Research (TSR), a major Japanese market research company, 60 percent of the high definition optical disk drives for PC applications produced worldwide were HD DVD. In slim HD DVD drives for portable PCs, the advantage increased to 70 percent.

Among the more innovative of the world's first class manufacturers that have recently added to the breadth of the HD DVD family are Samsung, Lite-On, Alco, Jiangkui/ED Digital, Meridian, Onkyo, and Shinco.

Evan Jacobs