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Toshiba Delays HD DVD Launch To Wait For SW

Toshiba’s U.S. sales executives issued a vague formal announcement that they now expect to delay the release of the company’s first HD DVD players by several weeks to await the arrival of software.

“Toshiba is currently working with the studios as well as our retailers, to finalize the sale date of our players,” said a statement issued by the company. “In order to maximize the launch of HD DVD, we intend to synchronize the launch of our players with HD DVD title releases. As you know, we’ve already began our nationwide tour last month for presale HD DVD demonstrations in many major cities, and we continue to receive substantial positive feedback.”

The statement stopped short of listing a specific release date and did not mention which or how many studios Toshiba is awaiting for to release the players.

The first players were originally slated to ship by the end of March when the first HD DVD titles were expected to be ready, but Warner Home Video announced last week that it now expects to ship titles on April 18, when it expects to be the first studio to deliver HD DVD titles.

Warners’ initial titles in the format will include Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai,” and Joel Schumacher’s “Phantom of the Opera.” Each disc will carry a $28.99 suggested retail price.

“Warner Home Video has been working closely with our CE, IT and retail partners to design an optimal product launch for consumers, and we’re pleased to announce the launch dates for these initial titles,” said Ron Sanders, Warner’s president. “We have always been a leader in home entertainment experiences and are thrilled to be the first studio to deliver movies on high-definition discs.”

The company is planning to release 17 additional titles in the coming weeks, including “Batman Begins,” “Constantine,” “Training Day” and “The Matrix.”