We've been tempering our enthusiasm about the possibility of next-gen hybrid HD DVD / Blu-ray player -- mostly because of Samsung and their fear of commitment -- but Ricoh's new lasers have got us feeling a little more optimistic. Using a 1mm thick diffraction plate with concentric grooves on each side, the new lasers can recognize what kind of disc you've inserted into a drive (be it CD, DVD, HD DVD or BD) and adjust the beam to play it. The ability to write data is further off because of the extra fire power necessary to make up for light lost to diffraction, but until the price of blank media comes down, we won't be worrying about that too much anyway. Ricoh is hoping to start supplying manufacturers with these by the end of this year, so barring any legal and or licensing nonsense, Samsung (or others) could actually make good on their original plan to be the "world's first" to market with a hybrid player by early 2007. We won't be holding our breath, though, not on this one.

[Via HDBeat, thanks to everyone who sent this in]

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