Toshiba, CBS Launch 'Star Trek' Promotion

The war between HD DVD and Blu-ray disc formats could stifle sales this holiday season, as movie studios support sides by releasing hot titles in one or the other.

Toshiba America Consumer Products and CBS Home Entertainment kicked off a joint campaign this week to promote the launch of "Star Trek: The Original Series: First Season" exclusively on the HD DVD/DVD Combo disc, and a limited-edition "Star Trek" Phaser remote control.

The giveaway entitles consumers who buy any Toshiba HD DVD player and the "Star Trek: The Original Series: First Season" HD DVD/DVD Combo boxed set a free limited-edition "Star Trek" Phaser remote by mail. The remote works with any Toshiba HD DVD player. It features special sounds and light effects from the TV series.

In their promotion for the offering, Toshiba and CBS will run online banner and print ads that highlight images from the original "Star Trek" series. The advertisements detail how Star Trek fans can get their very own Phaser remote control.

The HD DVD 10-disc collection, which sells for $195, will play on either standard HD format or HD DVD disc players. Not many consumers know that--which could put a damper on holiday disc and disc player sales for both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.

Industry insiders aren't convinced that tech companies and studios did enough in 2007 to educate consumers with marketing promotions on the differences between HD DVD and Blu-ray disc formats to choose a side on the HD DVD and Blu-ray format wars that continue to rage on.

Movie studios are divided. While some back HD DVD, others support the Blu-ray format. "Every time a studio that supports one format exclusively over another releases a fairly big title, such as 'Star Trek,' they will blow the horn as loud as they can," says Phillip Swann, president of TV Predictions.com. "They really want this promotion to be the real driver, not just for sales of the 'Star Trek' disc on HD, but HD DVD players."

Tapping into the Web to promote the HD DVD format, Toshiba continues educating consumers at toshibahddvd.com. But Swann doesn't believe there's enough being done to inform shoppers this holiday season on the differences between HD DVD and Blu-ray. While he expects small incremental growth in sales for both formats, the war that divides studios also continues to delay consumer purchases.

Many consumers don't realize that standard-definition DVDs play on either of the new HD DVD or Blu-ray disc player formats. Nor do they know that playing a standard-definition DVD on a HD DVD or Blu-ray disc player improves the image.

Overall, Blu-ray discs outsold HD DVD 2-1 last year, but the HD DVD release of "Transformers" nearly ended that streak last month, with Blu-ray edging HD DVD by a 51-49 margin for one week, according to Swann's Web site.

The discs are remastered from original camera negatives. Each episode offers digital visual effects and a new 5.1 soundtrack. The set also holds rare on-set home movie footage. Showcasing 3D graphics, the interactive Starfleet Access menu interface allows HD viewers to activate icons on seven episodes to gain picture-in-picture video commentaries and an interactive tour of the Starship Enterprise.

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