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Thomson Says It Plans HD-DVD Player

On the heels of the recent spate of Hollywood studio announcements supporting one of the two competing high-definition optical disc formats, Thomson disclosed that it will launch an RCA-branded HD-DVD player before the 2005 holiday season.

The announcement was something of a surprise, since Thomson had been a visible member of the rival Blu-ray Founders Group, but Dave Arland, a spokesman on Thomson policy and government affairs, said his company has not dropped its interest in Blu-ray Disc, adding that the company could eventually launch players in both formats.

He said the decision to announce support for an HD-DVD player was made at this time to show that Thomson plans to support the investments of Hollywood studios that use the disc replication services of Thomson’s Technicolor unit.

As the HD-DVD player was announced, Technicolor said that it is preparing to provide replication services for both HD-DVD and the Blu-ray Disc formats.

Arland said the synchronized announcements were offered “because we wanted to give a level of comfort to [Technicolor’s] studio customers that we will support them” as they move to build a new business in next-generation optical disc software.

He explained the announcement followed the public non-exclusive statements of support for HD DVD from Warner Brothers, Universal and Paramount Studios a week earlier.

Acknowledging that Disney, one of Technicolor’s largest accounts, announced its non-exclusive support for Blu-ray Disc a day earlier, Arland said Technicolor will replicate Blu-ray optical disc media, and could also decide to market Blu-ray Disc players.

Arland said the decision to launch a player with HD DVD was made at this time because that format appears to be the closest to an actual market introduction.

Thomson will market a version of the HD-DVD player under the Thomson brand in Europe, Arland said. Details on player specifications and pricing were not available.