A month after the launch of Blu-ray, and the first high definition DVD players from rival HD-DVD camp are hitting the shelves. The HD-E1 will be onsale in January 2007 and priced at $1,099, while the step-up HD-XE1 will be available in February 2007. The principal difference between the two is that the E1 outputs video at a maximum 1080i resolution, which matches that of most HD displays sold to date, while the XE1 will output the full 1080p resolution contained on HD DVDs. (LCD, plasma and projectors capable of displaying 1080p are only now becoming available.) Both Toshiba’s players will upscale current DVD and CDs via the HDMI to 720p and 1080i resolutions while the HD-XE1 offers 1080p upscaling.

HD DVD shares many characteristics with Blu-ray, including high definition video playback, two new flavours of uncompressed surround sound (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD), a variety of interactive features, and backwards compatibility with existing DVDs and CDs. HD DVD discs have less capacity than Blu-ray (30GB compared with Blu-rayys 50GB).

The movie studios Paramount, Universal and Warner are supporting the HD DVD format.