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Toshiba Delays HD DVD Debut In Japan Market

Toshiba’s plan to launch the first HD DVD players in Japan by the end of the year has been delayed due to copy protection issues, the company said.

Mark Knox, a U.S.-based spokes-man for the HD DVD format, said the delay resulted from still unfinished specifications for the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), the main copy-protection system used in both the HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats.

“Since AACS is not finished yet, to the point where we can finalize and ship it, that means we are not going to be able to make this year for Japan,” Knox told TWICE. “That delay, which we don’t believe is going to be that long, shouldn’t impact the delivery of the product in the U.S. in March, and it doesn’t affect the manufacturing of the product, because the changes we need will be made in firmware.”

Knox said meetings to finalize the remaining issues with AACS are scheduled this month.

“They just have to take the final votes so they can issue keys,” Knox said. “There are some points still under discussion, but I think they are going to reach consensus now on a few items, such as not doing region code, for example.”

In a corporate statement on the new delay out of Japan, Toshiba said “because the DVD Forum has adopted AACS as an integral part of the HD DVD format, Toshiba will launch its HD DVD products only after AACS is finalized.

“Under these circumstances, Toshiba plans to launch HD DVD players and notebook PCs with HD DVD drives in Japan promptly following the implementation of AACS into hardware and software products, while also taking into consideration the optimum timing for marketing hardware and software. We continue to plan for a first quarter 2006 launch in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, Sony and other manufacturers planning to offer high-definition optical disc players in the second quarter of 2006, when Sony is expected to launch its PlayStation 3 game console that will include Blu-ray Disc playback capability.