Techies spin new twist in HD fight

Par, WB supporting both sides in upcoming format war

In the high-def DVD format war, Hollywood and the tech world are starting to diverge.

While studios continue to move toward the Sony-backed Blu-ray camp, tech companies are looking increasingly friendly toward Toshiba’s HD DVD.

This past week, WB announced it will support Blu-ray along with HD DVD, to which it is already committed.

Paramount recently announced it is also playing for both teams. With all the other studios working exclusively with Blu-ray, that leaves Universal as the only player solely in the HD DVD camp, a position it will likely abandon.

But Toshiba’s camp got a boost this past week when computer maker HP publicly called on Blu-ray to adopt managed copy, a technology that lets users take movies off DVDs and transfer them to PCs as well as iHD, a set of tools allowing interaction with movies.

By going public with its wishes, HP made it clear that Blu-ray hasn’t been responsive to such notions in private talks.

Toshiba is surely grinning over the spat, since the two technologies are already supported by HD DVD.

And they’re both crucial to a company like HP, which hopes to make its computers, with their broadband connections and large hard drives that can store movie files, the home entertainment hub of the future.

Sony, meanwhile, has every incentive to keep movies off PCs, since it wants its upcoming PlayStation 3 console to be consumers’ main digital entertainment device.

While HP is still committed to Blu-ray, its conflict with the format’s backers indicate that it’s warming up to HD DVD. Microsoft and Intel recently announced they’re supporting HD DVD for similar reasons.

Many studios have cited the expected success of PlayStation 3 has a key reason for signing onto Blu-ray. But now it looks like HD DVD is fighting back via an even more ubiquitous device in homes than game consoles: PCs.

Though momentum remains on Blu-ray’s side, HD DVD isn’t going down without a fight.

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