Toshiba Confirms Delay of HD DVD Player Rollout

Toshiba Corp. said Friday it has postponed the release of high-definition DVD players in the United States until April, a month later than planned, so that it can synchronize the sales with title releases from Hollywood studies.

A precise sales date was not available, said Toshiba spokeswoman Junko Furuta.

But the Japanese electronics company was "currently working with major studios and major retailers to finalize sales dates of our players," she said.

Toshiba had previously said it would release the new product in March.

Furuta cited last week's announcement by Time Warner's (TWX) Warner Home Video unit, which said it would not release the first titles using the HD DVD format until April 18.

The HD DVD format and the competing Blu-ray disc format, backed by Sony Corp (SNE)., deliver dazzling images in high-definition video and can store much more data than today's DVDs, allowing for more interactive features, such as enjoying a movie while simultaneously watching the director discuss the scene.

Sony has said it will start selling Blu-ray disc DVD players in the United States this summer.

Toshiba's new HD DVD players, the HD-XA1 and the HD-A1, will be priced at $799 and $499, respectively, the company has said.

The HD DVD format is backed by Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and Intel Corp. (INTC), as well as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which hopes its new Xbox 360 video game console will challenge Sony's PlayStation.

The HD DVD format, jointly developed with Japan's NEC Corp. (NIPNY), is incompatible with Blu-ray, which is also backed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (MC), which makes Panasonic brand products, Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and Dell Inc. (DELL), along with a variety of other tech companies and studios.

Sony has already started selling video recorders that use the Blu-ray technology and is planning to release the PlayStation 3 game consoles, which also use the technology, by November. Sony has not disclosed a price for the Blu-ray disc players.

Furuta said Toshiba has begun making pre-sale HD DVD demonstration in 40 major U.S. cities since last month, including New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.