The battle over the next generation of DVD formats has got well and truly under way with the announcement from Toshiba that the company will be launching HD-DVD players as early as March this year.

Two new players, the HD-XA1 and HD-A1, will be available in America retailing for around £280-£450 Toshiba said.

Yoshihide Fuji, Toshiba's corporate senior vice president, said: "Going forward, HD-DVD is destined to be a key driver for progress and the development of the consumer electronics, IT and entertainment industries".

Earlier this week Bill Gates announced the launch of an HD-DVD drive for the Xbox360, which will allow gamers to benefit from the high definition format.

A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company has not yet set a date on when to sell the new HD-DVD players in Japan, pending a copy protection issue.

However not everyone is keen on the new format. Michael Dell in a Q&A session told Pocket-lint that his company was backing Sony's Blu-ray offering. “Blu-ray is an revolution not an evolution”.

The company will be launching Blu-ray supported machines later this year.