Future of DVD mired in confusion

Supporters of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD look further away from agreement than ever

The future of DVD recording is up in the air, after Sony claimed that talks between rival factions pushing the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD factions have collapsed.

Ken Kutaragi, president of Blu-ray backer Sony, said late last week that negotiations with Toshiba, a leading supporter of HD-DVD, have ended. The two sides have been discussing which format would become the standard for the next-generation DVD.

This sparked fears that a unified next-generation DVD standard will never be agreed on. But, by late on Monday, the two sides appeared to be prepared to keep talking. Gamespot.com reported that Sony and Toshiba will begin talks again at the end of this month.

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD both offer the potential of much greater storage capacity than is possible with today's DVDs, although Blu-Ray has the edge as manufacturers have produced double-layer Blu-Ray disks that can hold 50GB.

TDK said last month that its engineers have cracked 100GB in the lab, with a company spokesman citing 200GB as the next target. HD-DVD, in contrast, currently tops out at 45GB.

Toshiba has claimed that HD-DVD will be cheaper to make, but Sony has the potential trump card of the PlayStation3 -- which so far will only be compatible with Blu-Ray.