Panasonic Blu-ray Disc recorders Panasonic kicked off Ceatec by unveiling three new Blu-ray Disc recorders. The recorders can cram up to 18 hours of high-definition video onto a 50G-byte Blu-ray Disc -- something that hasn't been possible until now. Previous recorders took the MPEG2 digital TV stream as it was transmitted and recorded it directly to disc resulting in a recording capacity of about 4 hours on the 50GB discs. However the new Panasonic recorders can convert this into the more efficient MPEG4 AVC compression system and thus the greater storage capacity on each disc. They also have built-in hard-disk drives. All three recorders will go on sale in Japan on Nov. 1 with the top-of-the-range BW900 costing ¥300,000 (US$2,600). There are no immediate plans to sell them overseas but Panasonic said it is examining the possibility.