NEC ships hybrid Blu-ray/HD DVD chip

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Undecided on whether you should buy a Blu-ray or HD DVD player? NEC wants to simplify that decision and has begun shipping a hybrid chip capable of playing back both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats. According to Reuters, the chips will sell for around $84 each.

Despite the technical success of the chip, legal issues may nix any future hybrid players. Back in July, the European Commission sent the Blu-ray and HD DVDs a letter asking for clarification on some licensing issues.

Companies wanting to make either Blu-ray or HD DVD players must license their respective technologies. Some companies, mainly drive makers and media companies like Paramount and Warner Brothers, are hedging their bets by licensing both technologies.

Samsung, LG and others had announced hybrid players, but may be contractually prohibited from making them. LG even cancelled their hybrid plans and went ahead with making only Blu-ray players and recorders. Sony's Blu-ray license apparently prohibits drive makers from manufacturing a hybrid drive.

The chips are shipping now and NEC expects to sell 300,000 a month starting in April 2007.