Ultimately it looks like the real winners in this format war could be consumers.

In a story from The Hollywood Reporter, Samsung Electronics plans to release an HD-DVD player in addition to the Blu-ray player they were first in bringing to market.

Apparently, "the Korean consumer electronics manufacturer said it is developing a dual-format player that will play both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD software. The 'Duo HD' player (BD-UP5000), expected out in time for the holidays, also will support both next-generation formats' interactive technologies, HDi and BD-Java."

In addition to this, "Dongsoo Jun, executive vp of the Digital AV Division at Samsung Electronics, said his company also 'is flexible to market a standalone HD DVD player whenever consumers demand it.'"

"Our main concern is not technology but consumer choice," Jun went on to say. "Consumers are hungry for more HD content but are currently confused about competing formats. Samsung's Duo HD player will allow consumers access to every HD movie title available regardless of the authoring format. Samsung is committed to making life simpler through technology and will market next-generation DVD products which will satisfy the consumer and market requirement."

Not surprisingly, Craig Kornblau, "president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment and a key Hollywood supporter of the HD DVD format" is quite excited to hear this news. Samsung was seen as a major force behind Blu-ray but he considers this shift to HD "an acknowledgment of the tremendous value that HD DVD brings to the early adopter of high-definition packaged media."

Ron Sanders, president of Warner Home Video, which supports both formats, was also pleased with Samsung's announcement. "We welcome Samsung's Duo HD player as another solution in the marketplace that will help reduce consumer confusion and buyer hesitancy toward HD media. This is an innovative product that can move us closer to mainstream consumer adoption of HD technologies." He stated

Currently, Blu-ray DVDs are selling much better than HD. "HD DVD is supported by three major studios -- Universal Studios, Warner and Paramount -- but Warner and Paramount also support Blu-ray. 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista and Sony Pictures are exclusively in the Blu-ray camp, as is mini-major Lionsgate."

Kornblau and the other HD-DVD faithful feel that "the imminent entry into the open-platform HD DVD market of low-priced players from Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers will ultimately tip the scale in favor of that format."

"Look what affordable players did for DVD," Kornblau states. "DVD didn't really go mass market until the Chinese came in."

Evan Jacobs