Panasonic: Blu-ray will win by New Year's Day

Exec predicts PS3's hi-def format will defeat Microsoft-backed HD DVD in next-gen disc format war.

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CHIBA, Japan--The decisive battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD is at hand, says a prominent Panasonic exec.

Blu-ray manufacturers are going to start cutting prices and go out on a promotional binge this holiday season, Matsushita Electric Industrial's Kazuhiro Tsuga said during a briefing with reporters at Ceatec, a large tech trade show that started here Tuesday. At Matsushita, which is best known for its Panasonic brand name, Tsuga is an executive officer who oversees networking efforts, some home electronics technologies and overseas labs, and other areas.

By the end of the Christmas season or the end of the first quarter, the writing will be on the wall. The format war in earnest may last only another year, he predicted.

"The BD (Blu-ray disc) companies will try to do our best to promote Blu-ray," he said. "The studios want us to put money in to promote it."

He added: "By the end of the year, you will see good products with very good promotion."

The Blu-ray coalition is also working on ways to cut the price of slim Blu-ray drives and recorders to allow the technology to infiltrate notebooks and PCs.

And wouldn't you know it--Matsushita has new Blu-ray players on the way. The three models will handle 18 hours of full-HD programs on a dual-layer disc and will go on sale November 1 in Japan, according to Reuters.

Tsuga's no fan of combo players that conjoin Blu-ray and HD DVD features. Last year, he called the idea "stupid, stupid." He pretty much repeated the comment this year and said that Matsushita still has no plans for such a device.

He downplayed Paramount Pictures' commitment to release movies on HD DVD exclusively, saying it only lasts for 18 months, and argues that studios are going with HD DVD "because big money came" to them. (Microsoft, Toshiba, and Intel are the main backers of HD DVD.)

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