Hybrid players due early next year

With no foreseeable happy ending to the HD-DVD/Blu-ray format war, NEC has done us all a favor today by shipping a chip that is compatible with both formats.

According to Reuters, "the chips go on sale for 10,000 yen ($84), roughly the same price as NEC Electronics' chips which read only Blu-ray or only HD DVD formats." Players incorporating the new chip will be available sometime early 2007, reports AkibaNews.

While we now have silicon to rule both formats, the optical pick-up lens capable of reading both HD-DVD and Blu-ray is still currently in development. Until such a hybrid pick-up becomes reality, dual-players must utilize two separate lenses, which no doubt drives up costs.

A NEC spokesperson commented that a hybrid chip and optical pick-up would likely make up more than half of the cost of a player.

Developments to bridge the gap between the two warring formats isn't exclusive to hardware. Warner recently filed a patent outlining plans of a hybrid-disc that will be compatible with both HD-DVD and Blu-ray by means of layering one format on top of the other.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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