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New HD-DVD has dual-layered surface

Two Japanese companies have developed a DVD that can play on both existing machines and the upcoming HD-DVD high-definition players, raising hopes for a smooth transition as more people abandon older TV sets for better screens.

Toshiba and Memory-Tech's disc has a dual-layered surface that can store both types of data on the same side, the Associated Press reported.

For consumers, that would eliminate the potential headache of having to own two types of DVD players: Both will be able to read such discs, though only the newer HD-DVD equipment can take advantage of the higher-resolution technology.

The discs, which took six months to develop, will be able to hold 4.7GB in the current format and 15GB in high resolution.

The new DVDs rely on the HD-DVD format, which has the backing of the DVD Forum, an international association of electronics makers and movie studios. New DVD players using the format are expected to hit stores by late 2005. The technology does not work with the competing Blu-ray technology.

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