Finally, good news for consumers in the asinine format war currently raging everywhere but in peoples living rooms: Ricoh has announced an optical device that will make it much easier for manufacturers to create players that can play both high-definition disc formats, HD DVD and Blu-ray. The device would sit just above the laser and allow for multiple formats to be read without the need for multiple lasers and pickups, saving loads of space and money in the new players. In a greed-fueled battle that should have be fought before bringing players to market, electronics giants have been exchanging a volley of bitter marketing-speak over which of their near-identical next-generation formats was better — threatening to annoy customers so much that everyone would just decide they were happy with plain old DVDs. If manufacturers begin packing the new Ricoh device in their players, the entire battle could be made moot by allowing for customers to buy just one player that handles both formats. While some manufacturers have alluded to developing such a device, none have actually announced concrete plans to do so, probably due to the expensive nature of including both sets of lasers in one player. Ricoh will be offering up its device to manufacturers at the end of the year, and there's sure to be an enterprising manufacturer or two out there that will jump at the chance to be the first to create a dual-format player. Sony, Toshiba, and all the rest of them will doubtlessly continue to spin their wheels about formats, but customers will then have even fewer reasons to pay attention to them. We'll keep you updated as to when dual-format products head towards store shelves.
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