When two technologies compete for dominance, one usually wins, eventually, while the other loses. Remember the Betamax?

But history may not repeat itself when it comes to high-definition DVDs because hardware makers have agreed to produce machines that will play DVD movies in both formats, HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

The two technologies have been fighting for market share, trying to outdo one another in offering the high-resolution playback that consumers purchasing new HDTV sets expect.

But the war may be over. LG Electronics is expected to provide a glimpse of its new dual-format DVD player at the Consumer Electronics Show later this month. Other hardware makers have indicated they will follow suit.

While regular DVDs work on the new sets, DVD players specifically designed for HD are able to reproduce programs with the sharp pictures of Hi-Def. They also provide more features.

But HDTV set makers have fretted over the bitter war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray, fearing a repeat of the early 1980s standoff between RCA's VHS video format and Sony's Beta. It was not until VHS vanquished Beta that the video industry really took off.

Set manufacturers are likely to see the new machines as welcome news, removing one more excuse consumers might offer for delaying a purchase. The new dual-format players will have optical drives and integrated circuits necessary for both HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

The new players won't be cheap, though. Industry insiders say consumers should brace for price tags almost as steep as the TV sets themselves.