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A new feature for Blu-ray discs: conventional DVD movies [UPDATED]

December 1, 2009 |  9:42 am

Any movie buff with a Blu-ray player and young children knows this dilemma: When a movie you love comes out on disc, do you buy it in the Blu-ray format for the sake of your big-screen living-room TV, or do you buy it as a conventional DVD so it will work on your portable, your laptop and the back-seat DVD player in your SUV? The lack of backward compatibility is one of the central challenges for Blu-ray discs, a format the public has been relatively slow to embrace (although disc sales have been growing rapidly).

Today, Universal Studios announced what seems like an elegant solution: two-sided discs with Blu-ray on the front and conventional DVD on the flip. It's starting with the three movies in the "Bourne" trilogy, arguably the greatest series Matt Damon has made. No information yet on what the discs will sell for, and alas, they won't be available for the holidays or as a package -- each of the three discs will hit the shelves Jan. 19. The Blu-ray side will be full-featured, supporting BD-Live and other Blu-ray niftiness.

Updated, 11:04 a.m.: The suggested retail price will be $29.98, which is what Universal suggests for many of its Blu-ray-only titles. In other words, the studio doesn't seem to be setting a premium price for "flipper" discs beyond what it already commands for Blu-ray.

Universal previously had offered hybrid HD-DVD and DVD discs, back when Universal was in the ill-fated HD-DVD camp, so this latest step is a welcome extension of that effort.

-- Jon Healey

Healey writes editorials for The Times' Opinion Manufacturing Division. Follow him on Twitter: @jcahealey

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