TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Toshiba Corp said on Tuesday it had developed the world's first PC able to read HD DVD discs, a next-generation disc format it is promoting over a rival standard pushed by Sony Corp.
Toshiba, the world's third-largest notebook computer maker behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard, said the PC would be introduced in Japan in early 2006. It is still considering the timing for an overseas launch.
The PC will be equipped with a slim, read-only HD DVD drive produced by Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology, a joint venture between Japan's second-largest electronics conglomerate and South Korea's Samsung Electronics.
In addition to content in the high-definition HD DVD format, the new PC will also allow consumers to both read and write to conventional DVD and CD discs.
A Toshiba spokeswoman said she expected several movie titles in the HD DVD format to be released in Japan by the end of this year and the availability of HD DVD content to increase as the HD DVD player market takes off in earnest from next spring.
Toshiba and Sony, leading rival camps, have waged a three-year battle to have their different standards adopted for the next-generation of DVDs, which promise much greater capacity for high-definition movies.
Toshiba, along with NEC and Sanyo Electric, has been promoting HD DVD, while Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial, the maker of Panasonic brand products, have been developing a technology known as Blu-ray.
Toshiba's announcement comes as the latest reminder that products from both standards will soon be on the market, a situation that analysts say could confuse and inconvenience consumers.
The Toshiba spokeswoman said the company was still committed to launching an HD DVD player in the fourth quarter of 2005 in Japan, while Sony plans to put a Blu-ray disc drive in its new PlayStation game console due early next year.
The two sides tried to forge a common format earlier this year but the talks broke down because they were unable to agree how to best forge a unified standard.