The latest news from the nearest equivalent to the first world war trenches is that messrs Dumb and Dumber, to wit, the Blu-ray and HD-DVD supplier consortiums, are determined to let the consumer decide. They can't get together. Neither technology has a clear advantage. Neither consortium has a clear lead in terms of committed content suppliers or format users.

Since they can't make their minds up we, the great mass of consumers, are going to have to make their minds up for them. How stupifyingly tedious.

However, rescue could be at hand, courtesy of a Broadcom chip that can play both formats.

Broadcom unveils chip that plays Blu-Ray, HD-DVD by Tom Krazit
Broadcom Corp. could help PC and DVD manufacturers sidestep the choice between two high-definition recording standards with a chip that can decode signals recorded in either format.

The chip company unveiled the BCM7411D chip ... ahead of the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show where high-definition players and recorders based on the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD standards are expected to be showcased.

A new recording standard is needed to accommodate the rapacious storage requirements of high-definition video, but as with the DVD-RW and DVD+RW and VHS-vs.-Betamax debates, two different standards backed by industry heavyweights have emerged.

... Video recorded using one standard will not play on DVD players built using the other standard, which promises to frustrate consumers looking to play DVDs from one movie studio on both their PCs and living-room DVD players. But Broadcom's technology will allow PCs or DVD players using the chips to play video recorded with either standard, said Jonathan Goldberg, senior product line manager with Broadcom.

The chip supports the H.264 and VC-1 recording standards, both of which are used by Blu-Ray and HD DVD recording technology. It also supports video recorded in the high-definition MPEG-2 format. The company released a reference design with the BCM7411D and a companion chip that gives manufacturers a blueprint to build high-definition DVD players.

"Our chip set will play 100 percent of HD-DVD and 100 percent of Blu-Ray, and all the special features that come with that," Goldberg said.

Toshiba was supposed to have the first HD-DVD recorder out by the end of last year, but a delay in the finalization of a key copy-protection technology has pushed back the launch date. Blu-Ray recorders are expected to launch later in 2006. Devices based on both standards will get a thorough airing this week in Las Vegas at CES.

Note about notebooks
Will Toshiba ship notebook computers with Blu-ray drives? It is one of the world's largest notebook computer suppliers and the temptation must be awesome for it to ship HD-DVD-equipped notebooks.

Turning to Sony - you guessed it; it's quite unlikely we'll see Vaio notebook computers with anything other than Blu-ray drives, or Vaio desktops for that matter.

Hopefully the pragmatic and sensible Taiwanese notebook manufacturers and the mainstream PC desktop manufacturers will both use this Broadcom chip and side step these objectionable format wars.