If you still use a lot of optical discs, you may want to start stocking up. According to DigiTimes, optical disc prices could rise by nearly 50% in the second half of 2013 due to manufacturers in Japan and Taiwan stopping production.

The global optical disc industry is experiencing a reshuffle which will continue into the first half of 2013 due to makers in Japan, as well as second- and third-tier Taiwan-based makers stopping production during 2012. Prices for optical discs are expected to increase by nearly 50% in the second half of 2013, according to Robert Wong, chairman of Taiwan's largest optical disc maker, CMC Magnetics.

There is some good news though. Thanks to a growing demand for DVD discs in emerging markets and for Blu-ray Discs in mature markets, global optical disc demand in 2012 is estimated to drop by less than 10% rather than the originally forecast 10-15%.

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Pioneer Japan sent out a press today, announcing what it claims to be the world's thinnest and lightest slot-loading Blu-ray Disc writer. Thanks to a magnesium alloy case, the BDR-XU02J weighs in at a mere 245g and measures only 133 × 133 × 12 mm. This stylish, USB powered drive is capable of 6x BD-R, 6x BD-R DL, 6x BD-R LTH, 2x BD-RE and 2x BD-RE DL writing speeds and a maximum BD-ROM read speed of 6x. The BDR-XU02J also writes to triple- (100GB) and quad-layer (128GB) BD-R media at 6x and triple-layer (100GB) BD-RE media at 2x.

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The BDR-XU02J includes features like Pioneer's PureRead2+ technology and noise reducing firmware. It also ships with authoring and playback software from CyberLink as well as DiXiM BD Burner 2013, which lets you burn copy-protected digtal content directly from DTCP-IP enabled DLNA devices on your home network. The BDR-S08J is scheduled to ship in late December and is expected to retail for about 22,000 Yen ($266US).

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I-O Data Japan sent out a couple of press releases this morning, announcing its new BDXL compatible 16x Blu-ray Disc writers. Like Buffalo's latest offerings, the internal BRD-S16X and external BRD-UT16X appear to be based on an LG design. Both drives are capable of 16x BD-R (with Sony 6x BD-R media), 12x BD-R DL, 6x BD-R LTH, 2x BD-RE and 2x BD-RE DL writing speeds and can write to triple- (100GB) and quad-layer (128GB) BD-R media at 6x and triple-layer (100GB) BD-RE media at 2x. They also offer support for Millenniata's M-DISC technology which uses an inorganic rock-like material to provide up to 1000 years of  permanent data storage.

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Both drives comes bundled with WinDVD 10, Roxio Creator BD and Nero Essentials 12. The BRD-S16X and BRD-UT16X are scheduled to ship in late December and are expected to retail for about 13,600 Yen ($166US) and 18,900 Yen ($231US), repsectively.

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Buffalo Japan sent out a press release this morning, announcing two new BDXL compatible 16x Blu-ray Disc writers. Based on what appears to be the LG BH16NS40 or WH16NS40, the internal BRXL-16FBS-BK and external BRXL-16U3 are capable of 16x BD-R, 12x BD-R DL, 6x BD-R LTH, 2x BD-RE and 2x BD-RE DL writing speeds. On top of that, the drives can write to triple- (100GB) and quad-layer (128GB) BD-R media at 6x and triple-layer (100GB) BD-RE media at 2x.

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The BRXL-16FBS-BK and BRXL-16U3 come with authoring and playback software from CyberLink as well as DiXiM BD Burner 2013, which lets you burn copy-protected digtal content directly from DTCP-IP enabled DLNA devices on your home network. The BRXL-16FBS-BK and BRXL-16U3 are scheduled to ship in early December and are expected to retail for about 21,000 Yen ($255US) and 26.565 Yen ($322US), repsectively.

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Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. today unveiled the BDR-2208, the world’s first 15x internal Blu-ray burner and fastest drive on the market to date. The internal SATA drive can read and write to all BDXL disc formats, including BD-R and BD-RE triple-layer 100GB media and BD-R quad-layer 128GB media, as well as conventional recordable Blu-ray Disc (single-layer 25GB media and dual-layer 50GB media). In addition, the drive features PowerRead and Pioneer’s PureRead2, Auto Quiet Mode and QuickPlay technologies.

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The BDR-2208 is packaged with CyberLink® software that gives users the ability to play standard Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D titles on correctly configured computers, as well as author high-definition Blu-ray Disc content, while also delivering the ability for high-capacity data storage. The CyberLink software also upscales standard definition movies to look better on HD displays and converts 2D video files and DVDs into a 3D experience.

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Transcend Information, Inc., a worldwide leader in storage and multimedia products, today introduced its 8X slim portable CD/DVD writer, which at just 13.9 mm high, is currently the thinnest external CD/DVD writer on the market. Whether playing movies, installing software, or backing up files on the go, Transcend's new ultra-slim portable CD/DVD writer is the perfect companion for today's thin-and-light laptops and Ultrabooks.

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To complement the new breed of cutting-edge notebooks that do not feature a built-in disc drive, Transcend's portable CD/DVD writer provides a slim and stylish solution designed to enhance the Ultrabook user experience. Its ultra-thin (13.9 mm) and sleek design fits comfortably into the sleeve of any laptop bag or backpack and offers around 44% weight savings over standard external optical drives. Moreover, because the CD/DVD writer draws its electric power directly from the computer's USB ports, users can enjoy more diverse entertainment and enhanced productivity wherever they are.

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Pioneer Japan sent out a press today, officially announcing its new 15x Blu-ray Disc writer, the BDR-S08J. This Windows 8 compatible drive is is capable of 15x BD-R, 14x BD-R DL, 8x BD-R LTH, 2x BD-RE and 2x BD-RE DL writing speeds and a maximum BD-ROM read speed of 12x. The BDR-S08J also writes to triple- (100GB) and quad-layer (128GB) BD-R media at 6x and triple-layer (100GB) BD-RE media at 2x.

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The BDR-S08J includes features like Pioneer's PowerRead and PureRead3+ technologies as well as power-saving and silent modes. It also ships with authoring and playback software from CyberLink as well as DiXiM BD Burner 2013, which lets you burn copy-protected digtal content directly from DTCP-IP enabled DLNA devices on your home network.

The BDR-S08J is scheduled to ship in mid November and is expected to retail for about 23,000 Yen ($292US).

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One-Red LLC, the licensing company for the joint DVD patent licensing program, has announced the formation of a new patent licensing program for DVD-software manufacturers and DVD-PC manufactures. This new licensing program will become available as of October 15, 2012.

One-Red was established in 2011 by Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (“Philips”), Pioneer Corporation (“Pioneer”) and Sony Corporation (“Sony”) and is authorized to offer patent licenses on behalf of Philips and Sony for CD products and on behalf of LG Electronics, Inc. (“LG”), Philips, Pioneer and Sony for DVD products to interested third parties.

On July 1, 2012 One-Red launched a DVD licensing program for DVD Discs and DVD Players. Today’s announcement extends One-Red’s DVD licensing program to DVD-software manufacturers and DVD-PC manufactures.

Under the terms of the new program, One-Red will offer two separate agreements. The DVD- software license agreement will apply to DVD-software and the DVD-PC license agreement will apply to pre-installed DVD-software in PCs.

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Pioneer quietly released its new 15x Blu-ray Disc writer over the weekend. Available through a handful of Japanese retailers, the BDR-208XJ is capable of 15x BD-R, 14x BD-R DL, 6x BD-R LTH, 2x BD-RE and 2x BD-RE DL writing speeds. The drive also supports the BDXL format and can write to triple-layer (100GB) BD-R media at 8x, quad-layer (128GB) BD-R media at 6x and triple-layer BD-RE media at 2x.

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The BDR-208XJ is currently available in your choice of beige or black and can be purchased by itself for 10,980 Yen ($139US) or with software from CyberLink for 11,480 Yen ($145US).

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verbatim_100gb_bdxl.jpgVerbatim is launching a Blu-ray Disc to run on BDXL-compatible readers and writers with a super-sized 100GB of storage capacity – four times higher than storage on a standard recordable Blu-ray Disc.

Certified by the BDA (Blu-ray Disc Association), the high capacity recordable Blu-ray Discs from Verbatim enable users to backup high resolution photography, music or HD video files at 4x write speed. With 100GB storage, the BDXL discs can approximately store over 40,000 photos, 20,000 songs or 8 hours of HD video.

Blu-ray Discs offer significantly more storage capacity compared to DVD and CD media resulting in far fewer discs being required to save large volumes of data. Standard Blu-ray Discs provide storage capacities of 25GB for a single-layer disc and 50GB for a dual-layer disc, but Verbatim’s BDXL disc includes a third layer to give it a storage capacity of 100GB. The discs come with a specialised hard coat surface to protect them against scratches.

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