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Toshiba Corp. began sales Friday of the world’s first commercially available next-generation DVD player in Japan, ahead of the Sony Corp.-led group that is competing with the Toshiba-led camp for new global DVD standards.

Toshiba also plans to launch its HD DVD player in the United States in mid-April, the company said.

The HD-XA1, put on sale in Japan for about 110,000 yen, supports playback of prerecorded HD DVDs, offering consumers digital high-definition picture quality far surpassing that of standard DVDs, it said.

The HD DVD format is competing with the Blu-ray Disc format advocated by the Sony-led group.