Blu-Ray And HD-DVD Together At LastBlu-ray and HD-DVD Join Forces April 21, 2005 - According to a report by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the next-generation format war may be over before it ever starts. The Japanese newspaper on Thursday published with news that Sony and Toshiba are expected to make an announcement later this month that they have abandoned the Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats respectively and are working on a new medium that will bring together both standards. Sony, a leading member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, announced last year that it would include a Blu-ray drive in its forthcoming next-generation console, PlayStation 3. More than 100 companies, including Apple, Panasonic, HP, and Pioneer, support Blu-ray, which promises up to 50 gigabytes of storage on a single disc side. Toshiba leads the opposing format, HD-DVD. While it is commonly accepted that Blu-ray discs offer more storage space than HD-DVDs, electronics companies and Hollywood studios have remained divided over the two formats due in large to the manufacturing processes. In short, the DVD infrastructures already in place would serve HD-DVD manufacturers. However, costly new facilities and operations would need to be created in order to support the Blu-ray format. Sony and Toshiba have remained in negotiations on the subject for weeks, with key company executives from each camp dropping hints that a unified standard would be optimal. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that, having reached an agreement that a new, unified standard would be the best thing for the industry, Sony and Toshiba are now in the process of designing the new standard, which seeks to take the strengths from each medium and combine them. Sony has reportedly suggested using Blu-rays disc structure and HD-DVDs software technology while Toshiba has suggested keeping HD-DVDs disc structure and applying Sonys multi-layer data-recording technology. The Japanese paper reports that both companies are eager to reach an agreement in order to avoid the format wars that initially confused consumers and hindered both the VHS and DVD eras. The two electronics giants have already briefed major Hollywood studios including Disney and AOL Time Warner on the idea of a new, unified standard, according to the paper. The big question is, what does this news mean for PlayStation 3, which is scheduled to release sometime next year? The very probable answer is that the next-generation machine will drop Sonys announced Blu-ray drive in favor of hardware that instead plays this new, still-announced format compromise.