It's just one small step on the rough road towards a unified player that will bring peace and unity to a consumer electronics world torn by format war -- or something like that -- but NEC just announced that they're now shipping a dual-format chip that can power the playback of Blu-ray as well as HD DVD discs. We've still got to wait for a optical pick-up lens that can handle the dual formats, but supposedly Ricoh has that in the bag, so no worries, right? Well, we suppose there are a million things that could go wrong along the way, but so far most manufacturers are holding to their "early 2007" predictions for the hybrid player, with NEC promising monthly chip shipments of 300,000 by April of '07. The good news is that the chips will be selling for 10,000 yen ($84 US), which is roughly equivalent to the current costs for chips that only read one format. Also, it seems much more likely that the tech industry will be launching a hybrid player in the near future than the relatively far-fetched concept of the major studios getting behind some sort of all-in-one disc format, so it's good to see the likes of NEC and Ricoh really busting this stuff out.

[Via Akihabara]

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NEC ships dual-format Blu-ray / HD DVD chip