Here's an interesting bit of news. According to, the HD-DVD drive for the Xbox will be priced so that it and the console combined will be cheaper than Sony's Playstation 3.
Currently, the Xbox 360 retails at GBP 279 in the UK, with the Core System version selling for GBP 209, while the 60GB model of the PlayStation 3 is expected to cost between GBP 399 and GBP 419 when it arrives in late November.

Microsoft's alleged comments to UK retailers seem to suggest that the HD-DVD peripheral, which allows playback of high definition movies using Toshiba's next-generation DVD standard, will be priced below GBP 130, making an Xbox 360 and HD-DVD player bundle into a potentially attractive option at Christmas.
Keep in mind that they're comparing the cheaper Xbox 360 core system and the high end, 60GB PS3. For those on a budget, the 20GB PS3 will still probably be the way to go. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Panasonic has announced that they will be incorporating DivX support into two of their DVD recorders, the DMR-EH55S and DMR-EH75VS. Along with the ability to play back DivX files, both players feature an HDMI interface and the ability to upconvert to 1080i.
Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company and DivX, Inc., the digital entertainment company that created the DivX media format, announced today that Panasonic will incorporate the DivX codec into two of its 2006 DVD-Recorders. The DMR-EH55S DVD-Recorder with HDD and the DMR-EH75VS DVD-VHS-HDD Recorder bring a range of popular functionality to consumers, including the playback of DivX encoded video files.

Both models feature HDMI single cable connection with up-conversion to 1080i. The Panasonic DMR-EH55 is a DVD recorder with a 200 GB built-in hard disc drive, SD slot and DV Input. The Panasonic DMR-EH75 is a combo VHS-DVD recorder deck with an 80GB built-in hard disc drive. They provide very versatile solutions to users who want extreme flexibility in the formats they use for content delivery.
If you'd like to read more, Panasonic's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Sonic Solutions has announced that their Roxio Roxio BD software is being bundled with Pioneer's new Blu-ray Disc writer, the BDR-101A. Here's part of their press release:
Sonic Solutions (NASDAQ: SNIC),the leader in digital media software, broke new ground today shipping its Roxio BD software with the first commercially available Blu-ray Disc drive from Pioneer Electronics. The release ushers in a new era in optical disc recording, making possible for the first time the backup of up to 25GB of data on a single layer BD-R (recordable) or BD-RE (rewritable) disc, as well as image-to-disc recording and the archive and playback of hours of high-definition video content. The software and hardware combination will enable a range of applications including professional pre-mastering, high-definition authoring and high-capacity storage.

"We are pleased to partner with Sonic as we continue our tradition of delivering breakthrough technologies in the optical disc market, from our introduction of LaserDisc products more than 25 years ago to today's introduction of the first Blu-ray Disc Drive," said Andy Parsons, senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "Sonic's software has helped establish and grow the market for CD and DVD creation and has made them the clear leader in their field. Given the depth and breadth of our joint experience, this effort by our two companies bodes well for the future success of this exciting next-generation optical format."
If you'd like to read more, Sonic's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Nero has officially announced the release of their free Nero Digital Audio encoding software. This command line utility will take your .WAV files and encode them using the MP4 format.
Nero, the leaders in digital media technology, today announced that the Nero Digital Audio reference quality MPEG-4 audio encoding software is now available free of charge via download from the company's website ( Fully compatible with the latest MPEG-4 audio standard (LC-AAC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2), the 3GPP-compatible software enables users to store an entire audio album in a single .mp4 file with the best audio quality available.

A simple text-based command-line interface ensures that Nero Digital Audio is compatible with any existing audio software that consumers may already be using. Every file saved in the Nero Digital Audio codec will have advanced content management built into it, including support for CD-audio index maps, embedded album art and ReplayGain.
If you'd like to check it out, the Nero Digital Audio encoding software can be downloaded here. Otherwise more information is available on Nero's website. Add a comment
Sony DADC has announced that they've started producing Blu-ray Discs in the US. According to their press release, they currently have three replication lines turning out 25,000 Blu-ray Discs a day.
Sony DADC today officially inaugurated Blu-ray Disc BD-ROM (video, games, data) production in the U.S.

Sony DADC in the U.S. currently has three Blu-ray replication lines functioning with a capacity of 25,000 single-layer 25GB Blu-ray Discs per day, for a total of 750,000 Blu-ray Discs per month. This capacity is expected to increase to nearly 5 million discs per month by October as additional lines are added to the facility. Of these additional lines, six will be capable of manufacturing 50GB dual layer Blu-ray Discs.
Wow, that's a lot of Blu-ray discs. If you'd like to read more, Sony DADC's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Sony sent out a press release this morning, announcing their new Blu-ray equipped notebook computer, the VAIO AR. Along with support for Blu-ray, the VAIO AR Premium features a 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 17" widescreen display and NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600 graphics card.

Sony today took the wraps off the world's first Blu-ray Disc enabled notebook computer-- the VAIO AR which will be available this summer.

Part of a series, the VAIO AR comes in two different configurations: Premium and Standard. The AR Premium version plays Blu-ray Disc high-definition content, so you can enjoy movies in full 1080p HD resolution. The notebook has a17-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) widescreen display and uses Sony's XBRITE Hi-Color LCD technology.

For those who prefer to watch content on a larger screen, the AR model also has an HDMI connector and included cable that connects to high-definition televisions for a larger viewing experience.

In addition to supporting HD playback, the VAIO AR notebook is a multimedia powerhouse with the capability to record high-definition camcorder content to Blu-ray Discs. Now aspiring moviemakers can shoot, edit and burn their HD creation on a PC -- all in native 1080 resolution.
As you can imagine, all this doesn't come cheap. According to Sony's press release, the VAIO AR Premium will cost about $3,499. More information can be found here. Add a comment
DigiTimes has reported that CMC Magnetics recently received certification for their 4x DVD-R DL media. According to the article, they are the first Taiwanese manufacturer to do so.
CMC Magnetics, the largest producer of optical discs in Taiwan, recently obtained certification from international vendors for 4x DVD-R DL (single-sided double-layer) discs, the first among Taiwanese makers and the second in the world next only to Japan-based Mitsubishi Kagaku Media (MKM), according to industry sources.
The article also mentions that due to cost considerations, Verbatim/MKM may release OEM orders for 4x DVD-R DL discs to CMC. If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. has announced that their 25GB single layer Blu-ray Disc media will hit the US market in June. Here's part of their press release:
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., a subsidiary of the leading global imaging and information technologies company, today announced that Fujifilm-branded Blu-ray media would be available in the U.S. marketplace this June.

Increasing data volume on personal computers and the steady, continuing growth of high definition (HD) television has accelerated consumer demand for higher capacity optical recording devices for storing all this digital data. The Fujifilm Blu-ray discs will be available with 25GB storage capacity, in both write-once (BD-R) and re-writable (BD-RE) formats, which can be used in Blu-ray drives with 1-2X writing speed.
If you'd like to read more, Fuji's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Vanguard Disc is reportedly closing their doors for good. According to DigiTimes, the company could no longer compete in the CD-R disc market and failed to shift to DVD-R production.
Vanguard originally produced CD-R discs, with a monthly capacity of 8-10 million discs. About two years ago, the company began to switch to DVD-R production. However, the company said that it terminated all production about a month ago because it can't compete profitably against the low prices offered by CD-R makers in China and India amid rising material costs, and its shift to the production of DVD discs has not been smooth. Vanguard is now seeking buyers for its manufacturing equipment and is set to terminate operations.
If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
According to DigiTimes, Lite-On has scrapped their own Blu-ray drive designs and will instead use those developed by BenQ. Like many of BenQ's other drives, these will be based on Philips technology.
Lite-On IT plans to start volume production in July of this year of half-height (H/H) Blu-ray Disc (BD) optical disc drives (ODDs) based on technology from Royal Philips Electronics as a result of the company taking over BenQ's ODD unit, according to industry sources.

The H/H BD drive models had been originally developed by BenQ's ODD unit and Lite-On IT has taken over the development, including the use of technology from Philips that was licensed to BenQ, the sources pointed out. Lite-On IT is expected to take control of BenQ's ODD business in June of this year.
If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment