Sony debuted a number of new Blu-ray Disc based products at CES this week. Along with their first Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-S1, Sony unveiled a pair of aftermarket computer drives and announced plans for recordable BD-R and BD-RE media.
Sony's first Blu-ray Disc home player, model BDP-S1, will be available in early summer and features 1080p full HD video output for brilliant HD imagery and also DVD upscaling to 1080p. This initial BD player features a sophisticated design and exceptional build quality with rigid beam construction as well as finely tuned audio and video parts and circuits...

...Sony also announced that a Blu-ray Disc aftermarket drive for personal computers is also expected to be available this year, and will support 25GB/50GB BD-R/RE discs, as well as DVD+R/+RW, and CD-R/RW recordable media. This drive will be bundled with consumer-level BD recording software and accessories for creation of High-Definition home video and data Blu-ray Discs.

Beginning in the spring, Sony will begin selling a 25GB single layer BD-R and the BD-RE recording media. Dual layer 50GB capacity recordable media will follow in the subsequent months. Recordable Blu-ray Discs utilize Sony's AccuCORE technology offering superb archival and reliability, scratch guard protection and temperature durability.
While there isn't a lot of information on Sony's new Blu-ray drives, the Japanese website, AV Watch, does have a few pictures of them. As we find out more, we'll let you know. In the mean time, Sony's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
BenQ has announced their new line of LightScribe CD-R and DVD+R media. Here's part of their press release.
BenQ, a leading manufacturer of digital lifestyle devices, today announced a new line of CDR LightScribe and DVDR media. The maximum-speed 52x CDR LightScribe media supports the LightScribe direct-disc-labeling technology that burns text and graphics on the surface of the CD, offers a data capacity of 700MB / 80 minutes, and comes in quantities of 25.

The DVDR media comes in three variations: DVD+R versions of both the designer and BenQ-branded discs. BenQ's 16x-speed DVDR Designer Collection features stylish designs on the discs, including images of movie film and director clip designs, and provides 4.7GB data capacity. The Designer Collection packs come in quantities of 25. The high-performance 16x-speed BenQ-branded media offers 4.7GB data capacity and comes in packs of 25.
I'm not really sure what's up with BenQ's Designer Collection. I thought the whole point of LightScribe was so that you can create your own designs. In any case, BenQ's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
It looks like Microsoft has changed their minds about the Xbox 360 supporting HD DVD. Microsoft's chairman, the infamous Bill Gates, announced that the company will be offering an external HD DVD drive for their new console.
Bill Gates had previously stated that HD-DVD could be supported by Xbox 360 at some point, leading to speculation that an updated version of the console itself, with a built-in HD-DVD drive, could be on the cards.

However, Microsoft said late last year that no such update was being planned - and now it seems that the firm has opted for an external drive instead, following to some degree in the footsteps of products like Sega's MegaCD and Nintendo's 64DD.

Little detail about the new drive has been revealed, but it remains likely that it will only be designed to play back HD-DVD movie content, and will not be used for videogames content, as Xbox Japan boss Yoshihiro Maruyama hinted last year. Releasing HD-DVD games would force users to buy the peripheral before they could play the titles.
I really don't see Microsoft putting a HD-DVD into the Xbox 360 quite yet. HD-DVD drives are still quite expensive and would increase the Xbox 360's already sizable price tag. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Here's an interesting bit of news. According to DigiTimes, Philips BenQ Digital Storage (PBDS) has received orders for DVD-ROM drive modules to be used in the Xbox 360.
Philips BenQ Digital Storage (PBDS), a joint venture between BenQ and Royal Philips Electronics, has obtained OEM orders for DVD-ROM drive modules to be used in Microsoft's Xbox 360 with shipments to begin this month, according to industry sources. BenQ, however, declined to comment on the report, citing customer confidentiality.
If you'd like to read the entire article, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
Panasonic has announced plans to introduce blank Blu-ray discs in the United States. Initially, the company intends to bring four types of BD discs to market in 2006.
Panasonic, the leading brand of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., today announced plans for the 2006 introduction of blank Blu-ray (BD) discs in the United States. The new discs will be available in both 50GB and 25GB storage capacities which can be used on BD drives with 2X writing speed.
Most interesting is Panasonic's pricing. With a suggested retail prices ranging from $17.99 to $59.99 per disc, Blu-ray media is not going to be cheap. If you'd like to read more, Panasonic's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
While Toshiba originally intended to launch their HD DVD players in time for the holiday season, they were delayed due to some copy protection issues. If things go as planned, they will now hit the US market in March of 2006.
Toshiba Corporation today marked a major milestone in the history of the consumer electronics industry and the world of home entertainment with the announcement of the March 2006 commercial launch of the industry's first HD DVD players in the USA.

The new HD DVD players, HD-XA1 and HD-A1, take advantage of a wide range of advanced capabilities offered the HD DVD format, the next-generation DVD format defined by the DVD Forum. Both models offer superior high definition images, crystal clear audio, and the enhanced functionality delivered by such features as Advanced Navigation using "iHD."
Toshiba also plans to introduce a HD DVD-ROM equipped notebook computer in the Q1 of this year. If you'd like to read more, their entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Verbatim has announced that they will begin shipping their Blue-ray Recordable/Rewriteable media in early 2006. Initial products will include 25GB single layer media in both write-once (BD-R) and rewritable (BD-RE) formats.
Verbatim Corporation and its parent company, Mitsubishi Kagaku Media (Verbatim/MKM), announced today that it will begin shipping its new Blue-ray Recordable/Rewriteable media in early 2006 when hardware and software products supporting the formats are launched. Produced at MKM's optical disc manufacturing facility in Mizushima, Japan, Verbatim initial products will include 25GB single layer media in both write-once (BD-R) and rewritable (BD-RE) formats. Verbatim/MKM has already supplied burner/recorder manufacturers and their software suppliers with engineering samples of its new high-capacity media for securing read/write compatibility.

"Our automated manufacturing equipment is in place and we have confirmed the feasibility of mass production of BD-R and BD-RE media," said Tim Clatterbuck, Verbatim Optical Storage Manager. "We are just waiting for licensing and media qualification procedures to be established. As a true manufacturer, Verbatim looks forward to leading the industry in the production of high-quality, next-generation media as we did with CD and DVD recordable products. Our experience with DVD dual layer manufacturing also gives us a head start in producing 50GB dual layer Blu-ray media for launch later this year."
Verbatim's Blu-ray media will also include Verbatim BD media will include a proprietary super-hard coat developed by MKM. This protective coating protects the data layer from scratches and fingerprints and allows the usage of the media in a bare disc form, without a cartridge. More information on Verbatim's Blu-ray media can be found here. Add a comment
Droppix let us know that their Droppix Label Maker Pro software has received LightScribe certification from HP. This software is also the first with the ability to print to multiple LightScribe-enabled drives at once.
2006—Droppix, the new gold standard in digital media technology, today announced its new LightScribe-compliant Droppix Label Maker Pro software (multi-drive version) for creating and printing multiple professional quality CD and DVD labels simultaneously.

Droppix Label Maker Pro with LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling technology provides a complete and intuitive solution for creating customized labels for CDs and DVDs and printing them directly on the surface of multiple discs simultaneously via LightScribe-enabled optical drives.
If you'd like to read more, Droppix's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Memorex isn't the only company offering Blu-ray and HD DVD media. Fuji Photo Film USA has announced that they will be releasing their media the summer of 2006 and that they are continuing to look into holographic storage technologies.
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 and HD DVD media will be available mid 2006. Prototypes of the new Fujifilm HD DVD and Blu-ray media will be on display at the Fujifilm booth at CES 2006 (Central Hall, N101/102).

The company also continues to conduct significant research and development in the area of holographic storage technologies that will bring future generation, multiple terabyte optical storage capacity to consumer, entertainment and commercial applications. A single terabyte of holographic disc storage is roughly the equivalent of 16 days of continuously running DVD movies, or 8,000 times more data than a human brain retains in a lifetime.
It's good to see that media manufacturers are getting ready for the flood of Blu-ray and HD DVD products that will be coming out later this year. If you'd like to read more, Fuji's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Last but not least, Memorex has announced that they will be offering Blu-ray and HD DVD media this spring. Both formats will utilize their DuraLayer technology.
Memorex, the number one North American retail provider of digital media, will add the highly anticipated High Definition DVD (HD-DVD) and Blu-ray formats to its industry-leading family of recordable optical media early this year. The high definition discs will feature Memorex's DuraLayer Technology, a special scratch-resistant hard coating that protects media from dust, debris and rough handling.

HD-DVD and Blu-ray both feature very large storage capacities and high data transfer rates, making them ideal for consumers interested in recording high definition TV shows, sporting events and movies in crystal-clear, high-definition resolution. Both formats also offer high capacity storage capability for all data storage needs. The HD-DVD format supports 15GB of capacity on a single layer and 30GB on a double layer disc, while Blu-ray DVDs support 25GB of capacity on a single layer and 50GB on a double layer disc. In contrast, today's standard DVDs store up to 4.7GB on a single layer or 8.5GB on a double layer disc.
Memorex is expected to announce pricing later this year. If you'd like to read more, the entire press release can be found here. Add a comment