In a race to set industry standards, Toshiba Corp. on Friday began shipping the HD DVD HD-XA1 player into the Japan market.
HD-XA1, the company said, is the first player to support the HD DVD format approved by the DVD Forum, the international standards association.
The player will sell for approximately $936 (110,000 yen) in Japan. Two separate versions of the HD-XA1 priced less than $800 are expected to ship into the U.S. by mid April.
HD DVD format supporters led by Toshiba and NEC are jockeying for the lead position with Blu-ray format advocates Matsushita and Sony.
Similar to Blue-ray, Toshiba's DVD standard format holds more data to enable better sound and picture quality than conventional discs.
Earlier this month Sony delayed the release of its PlayStation 3 video-game console until November. The PlayStation will feature Blu-ray DVD capabilities.
Toshiba said the HD-XA1 support L-PCM 5.1ch audio and three surround-sound formats, including Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. The company said consumers can output sound sources to audio systems through the player's HDMI output or multi-channel audio output.
The HD-AX1 player had been scheduled for release late last year, but delays in completing a content protection specification pushed back the launch. The product goes on sale one month since the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) specifications were completed.
AACS founders IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic (Matsushita Electric), Sony, Toshiba, The Walt Disney Co., and Warner Bros. Studios participated in specifications that would accelerate the ability of new storage options for both HD DVD and Blue-ray.