Attack of the Blue Lasers

With their neon glow, pneumatic whoosh and blastastic destructive force, lasers are the preferred weapons for sci-fi movie heroes when the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. But here on Earth, lasers—which in more humble household varieties nestle deep inside your DVD player, reading data from the discs—are at the center of an epic movie battle of another kind: an escalating showdown among Japan's giant electronics manufacturers over the next generation of DVD technology. This fight may not decide the future of humankind, but the stakes are plenty high. The winners may be able to chart the course of...

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