Sony Europe has announced that they will start shipping their Blu-ray Disc media this month. Surprisingly enough, their single-layer BD-RE media is expected to be available by mid-March.

Sony Europe's Recording Media & Energy (RME) division today announced that its first Blu-ray Disc media will ship in Europe in March 2006. Single-layer BD-RE (Blu-ray Disc Rewritable) media will be available in store from mid March and single-layer write-once BD-R (Blu-ray Disc Recordable) media will be available from April. Sony is also set to launch dual layer discs later this year.

The single-layer Blu-ray Disc Recordable (BNR25A) and Blu-ray Disc Rewritable (BNE25A) media offer a storage capacity of 25GB, more than five times that of a normal DVD and enough for approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes of video at a bit rate of 24Mbps, or 10 hours and 30 minutes at 5Mbps.1 The new generation media support 2X speed which equates to a data transfer rate of 72 Mbps (9 MB/s), making the discs suitable for video recording as well as data storage and file backup. In addition, Sony's Blu-ray Disc media will feature its unique AccuCORE technology as standard, ensuring reliable data recording, increased disc protection and enhanced durability.
If you'd like to read more, Sony's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
If you're thinking about getting a Blu-ray or HD DVD drive for your computer, you're probably going to want to get an HDMI compliant graphics card, especially if you plan to watch movies in these formats. If that's the case, you might want to check out Sapphire's new HDMI/HDCP compliant graphics card, the Radeon X1600Pro HDMI.

Leading graphics supplier Sapphire Technology has just confirmed it will be the first company to offer HDMI compatible versions in its latest series of graphics accelerators to be previewed at CeBit 2006. The Sapphire Radeon X1600Pro HDMI card is scheduled for availability in April and will deliver both audio and video to HDMI compliant displays and televisions.

The X1600 series has been designed to deliver high efficiency, high performance in Shader Model 3.0 and enhanced image quality. The architecture also supports AvivoTM delivering vibrant high fidelity images and video playback to the latest High Definition (HD) video standards. The new HDMI version is a low profile PCI Express card which supports HDCP and delivers exciting new levels of display performance and quality over this new industry standard connection interface. Two versions provide for either an external SPDIF or internal cable to be connected so that the audio signal is delivered over the HDMI cable.
No word on price yet. However, the Sapphire Radeon X1600Pro HDMI is expected to ship in April. If you'd like to read more, Sapphire's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
TDK Europe has announced that they've started shipping their 25GB BD-R and BD-RE media. Here's part of their press release:
TDK, a world leader in digital recording solutions, announced that it is to begin shipping 25GB recordable and rewritable Blu-ray Disc (BD) media across Europe and will follow with 50GB media in April. A pioneer of blue laser recording technology and founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, TDK is the first to market with bare Blu-ray Disc media.

Recommended Retail Pricing is set at 15 Euro for a 25GB BD-R (write once), 20 Euro for a 25GB BD-RE (rewritable), 35 Euro for a 50GB BD-R (write once) and 45 Euro for a 50GB BD-RE (rewritable). Expect to see the first BD media on shelves from April 06, in line with the first BD hardware availability.
As you can see, Blu-ray Disc media definitely isn't cheap, especially the dual layer, 50GB discs. If you'd like to read more, TDK's entire press release can be found here.< Add a comment
Ulead has announced a new version of their DVD MovieFactory software. According to their press release, DVD MovieFactory 5 is the first consumer disc authoring software to support high-definition video discs.
InterVideo, Inc. (Nasdaq:IVII - News) and its partner Ulead Systems, Inc. (TSE:2487 - News), industry leaders in video, image and DVD software, today announced the latest version of Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5. New features that have been added to the company's consumer DVD authoring package include easy disc authoring, an expanded range of creative options and future-ready support for both the HD DVD and Blu-ray disc formats.

With support for the new high-definition formats, users will enjoy the amazingly sharp images that high-definition video provides while making a giant leap in storage capacity.
DVD MovieFactory 5 will be available in retail stores and at for USD 49.99 starting in late March. More information can be found here. Add a comment
CE Pro has reported that LG recently dropped the BD199 Blu-ray player from its spring lineup and is considering a combination Blu-ray/HD DVD player.
The memo states that the dual-format player is planned for late summer/early fall, and came about as a result of the uncertainty of the looming next-gen DVD format battle. "In light of uncertainty in this early stage of the market for pre-recorded high-definition optical discs, we have decided not to introduce the BD199 as originally planned for this spring," it says.
I'm not sure how LG is going to pull off a combination Blu-ray/HD DVD player. From what I understand, various licensing hurdles prevented Samsung from developing their own. Then again, with LG signing a patent deal with Toshiba, this might change. If you'd like to read more, head on over to CE Pro. Add a comment
According to an article at DigiTimes, Taiwan's CD-R manufactuers are not happy with Philips' Veeza licensing system. While Veeza cuts royalty charges, they system is hard to implement and is not enforced in countries like China and India.
Royal Philips Electronics' promotion of its Veeza licensing system for CD-R disc patents to Taiwanese optical disc manufacturers has been frustrated for the time being because none of the makers are willing to join it due to an overly-high royalty burden as well as unfair competition and exposure of business confidentiality issues, according to industry sources.
If you'd like to read more, additional the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Ricoh has announced that they've started shipping samples of their BD-R and HD DVD-R media to hardware manufacturers. Thanks to Ricoh-developed inorganic recording materials, these new discs offer high reliability when both reading and writing.

Ricoh Co., Ltd has developed recordable disks for Blue-ray Disk and HD DVD, the next-generation DVD formats, and starts shipping samples to hardware manufacturers.

The samples to be shipped are BD-R and HD DVD-R, write-once disks for Blue-ray Disk and HD DVD respectively. They have a capacity of 25 GB (BD-R) and 15 GB (HD DVD-R), approximately three to five times that of current disks.

By employing highly sensitive inorganic recording materials and high-precision stampers newly developed for next-generation recordable DVDs, Ricoh was able to achieve high reliability when writing and reading data. This will provide an advantage in further speed increases and multilayer structures.
Ricoh plans to ship their newly developed BD-R and HD DVD-R to consumers by the end of the year. More information can be found here. Add a comment
As we reported yesterday, CMC Magnetics reported a fire at one of their manufacturing facilities. While the fire damaged one of their smaller plants, it accounts for 10% of CMC's overall CD-R capacity which could worsen an already tight CD-R supply.
The optical disc maker said the plant, located at Yangmei, Taoyuan County, is a relatively smaller plant. Although CMC stressed that the plant's structure, equipment, and goods are fully insured, sources said CMC's monthly capacity will be reduced by about nine million units due to the fire.

The plant accounted for 10% of CMC's overall CD-R capacity and CMC's CD-R discs mainly support demand from major international brands, the sources stated. Since it takes at least three months to have CD-R discs validated, second-tier makers will not be able to absorb those orders and major competitors Ritek and Prodisc Technology will be the indirect beneficiaries of the fire, the sources indicated.
Needless to say, you can expect CD-R prices to rise next quarter. If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
NVIDIA has announced the availability of their new PureVideo technology. With PureVideo, H.264 decoding tasks are divided between the GPU and CPU, offering a smoother frame rate and better image quality than with a CPU alone.
NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processing technologies, today announced the immediate availability of new NVIDIA PureVideo technology enabling comprehensive support for high-definition video including hardware acceleration for content based on the advanced H.264 specification.

H.264, which is also known as the Advanced Video Codec (AVC) specification or MPEG-4 Part 10, is one of the digital video codecs specified for the Blu-ray (BD) and High Definition DVD (HD DVD) formats. H.264 delivers two to three times the compression efficiency of the MPEG-2 standard, which is used to create current DVD videos. H.264 has been adopted by both the DVD Forum for HD DVDs and the Blu-ray Disc Association for Blu-ray Discs, and VC-1 has also been adopted by the DVD Forum for HD DVDs.
NVIDIA PureVideo with H.264 support is available now and can be downloaded from their website. Otherwise more information on the technology can be found here. Add a comment
CyberLink has announced that they will be showcasing their new next-generation disc and digital TV solutions at CeBIT later this month. Here's part of their press release:
CyberLink Corp. (TSE:5203.TW - News), a leader in Digital Home solutions, today revealed its product line-up for CeBIT 2006, including software for burning and playing high-definition Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD content, products for sharing media within the digital home, premium content protection, and a world cup digital TV solution.

"As one of the world's preeminent IT events, CeBIT is a great opportunity to demonstrate how our latest next-generation disc and digital home solutions can greatly enhance the user experience for video and TV on the PC," said Alice H. Chang, CEO of CyberLink. "We offer easy-to-implement software that handles the key user requirements for digital home entertainment--recording, playing, and sharing--using sophisticated technology that we've developed over years of experience in this area."
If you'd like to read more, CyberLink's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment