Toshiba will soon put its second generation of HD-DVD players on sale in the US.

The Tokyo company kicked off the HD (high-definition) movie battle in the US earlier this year when it put its first generation of HD-DVD players on sale. They were soon followed by a machine from Samsung for the rival Blu-ray Disc format.

Both formats use optical discs the same size as a CD or DVD, but use blue lasers to cram much more data on to the discs. However, Blu-ray and HD-DVD are incompatible, and the companies behind each format are vying for the favour of consumers. So far, many consumers seem to be sitting on the sidelines until a winner is crowned.

The more expensive of Toshiba's two new players, the HD-XA2, packs several new features that should mean a better picture if you have the right TV and content. The player generates output at up to 1,080p, which is the highest of several levels of HD picture, and has the latest version of the HDMI (HD multimedia interface) standard. HDMI version 1.3 increases the colour depth from 24 to 36 bits for deeper colours in images, but you'll need a compatible TV to realise the benefit.

The HD-A2 will be available from October for $500 (about £265) and the HD-XA2 will go on sale in December for $1,000 (£530), according to Toshiba. That means there's no change in the price of Toshiba's cheapest HD-DVD player but there is an increase of $200 (£105) in the price of the high-end model from the current $800 (£425) price tag for the HD-XA1.