If price is the battleground where the war between Blu-ray and HD DVD will be fought, then Philips and Lite-On Digital Solutions fired a new salvo on Tuesday, with the announcement of a $199 drive.

Unfortunately, the internal PLDS DH-4O1S drive is not the official answer to the $99 Toshiba HD DVD player that went on sale at Wal-mart last week. The DH-401S is an internal drive for the PC that simply plays back Blu-ray, DVD, and CD discs, although the manufacturers noted that a PC equipped with the drive could be connected via an HDMI cable to a TV.

The Blu-ray format desperately needs some price competition, however. A Blu-ray DVD burner from Philips costs just under $480, and a similar search of Blu-ray players at the same retailer fails to turn up a price lower than $400. (The Toshiba HDA2 HD DVD player costs $269, at least from Newegg.) If consumers simply view the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray battle as one based on price, HD DVD appears poised to overcome the lead Blu-ray holds and start buying market share.

Spec-wise, the drive reads either single- or dual-layer BD-R/RE/ROM discs at up to 4X speeds, while single- or double-layer DVD±R or DVD-ROM discs can be read at 12X and single or double-layer DVD±RW discs can be read at 8X speeds. DVD, Single-layer or Double-layer media at 4X maximum. Single Layer DVD ±R or DVD-ROM can be read at 12X max, while Double Layer DVD±R and Single Layer DVD±RW can be read at 8X max. CD-R/RW/ROM has a maximum read speed of 32X.

"With the increasing availability of Blu-ray Disc movies and other video content, consumers now have an affordable way to view the brilliant picture quality Blu-ray technology offers right on their personal computers," says Christine Hsing, a marketing manager at PLDS, said in a statement. "Beyond that, the BD-ROM can serve as a playback device to their HD TVs by connecting an HDMI cable from the PC to the TV. This would save consumers hundreds of dollars on the purchase of a standalone Blu-ray player solely for that purpose."

The drive ships with the Cyberlink PowerDVD software bundle.

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