Hell freezing over? Toshiba set to release a Blu-ray player this year

The biggest supporter of the HD-DVD format, Toshiba has made no real move to support Blu-ray, which triumphed over HD-DVD as the top high-definition DVD technology. That may be changing, however, as the company is planning on releasing its first Blu-ray player, which will apparently be called the BD 18 and be released by the end of the year.

The biggest supporter of the HD-DVD format, Toshiba has made no real move to support Blu-ray, which triumphed over HD-DVD as the top high-definition DVD technology. That may be changing, however, as the company is planning on releasing its first Blu-ray player, which will apparently be called the BD 18 and be released by the end of the year.

Considering the feature sets of today's Blu-ray units are pretty similar, Toshiba is either going to have to offer some standout technology or compete on price to really make a dent in the market share of its competitors. Unfortunately, the electronics giant probably can't price its players lower than the bargain brands that show up as Wal-mart's occasional "doorbuster" specials, but a low retail price from a known brand like Toshiba could exert pressure on the Samsungs and Sonys of the world to drop the prices on their Blu-ray drives.

One area in which Toshiba could innovate is a Blu-ray recorder for the home theater, as PC World speculates. The market for these in the U.S. might not be large, but it could be a profitable niche for the first entrant into the space, since these would probably command a premium price. Panasonic is planning such recorders for the U.K., though it's unclear if and when these would reach our shores (owing in no small part to DRM issues with Hollywood).

It's also unclear how easy it will be for Toshiba to differentiate its player products from the competition, but we'll presumably find out soon enough.

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