The battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc for the hearts, minds and wallets of European consumers will start to gather momentum in November when Toshiba puts its first HD-DVD players on sale in Europe.
As in the US, Toshiba will sell two models in Europe. A £599 model will be available from November and an £899 model will go on sale a month later, the company said at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.
That means European consumers will be paying a higher price for the entry-level player than their counterparts in the US.
The Toshiba players have much in common. The HD-E1 and HD-XE1 both play a wide range of optical discs including HD-DVD, DVD and CD. However, only the more expensive HD-XE1 supports video output at the full high-definition of 1,080 lines and progressive scanning (1,080p). The HD-E1 will manage up to 1,080i, which almost certainly beats the TV in your living room right now, although it's regarded as slightly inferior to the 1,080p format.
The HD-XE1 can also upscale standard definition video to make it appear more like high-definition when viewed through an HDMI (high-definiton multimedia interface) connector. It also includes analogue outputs and a more up-to-date version of HDMI (version 1.3 versus 1.2 on the HD-E1)
A day earlier at the same exhibition in Berlin, a group of companies backing the rival Blu-ray Disc format said titles and players would begin appearing this autumn in Europe and Japan, meaning from about October and November.
However, among the player makers only Philips Electronics came close to specifying a date for the start of player sales in Europe. The company said its BDP9000 player will be available from early 2007. Sony's PlayStation 3 games console, which includes a Blu-ray Disc drive, is due on sale worldwide in November.