CEBIT - Sony to launch Blu-ray Vaio PCs in mid-year

Sony is planning to launch desktop and laptop PCs with Blu-ray Disc drives in the middle of this year, an executive said at Cebit on Thursday.

Sony is planning to launch desktop and laptop PCs with Blu-ray Disc drives in the middle of this year, an executive said at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, on Thursday.

The first computers to feature Blu-ray Disc drives will be high-end models aimed at multimedia use but over time the technology will trickle down to other models, said Tasuku Yazaki, general manager of Sony's Vaio product planning department. The machines will be launched worldwide at around the same time, he said without revealing anymore details of the products.

Players and computer drives for the Blu-ray Disc format, an optical disc format that boasts a storage capacity of 25GB on a single layer disc the size of a CD, are due out in the coming months.

The first consumer Blu-ray Disc players are due on May 23 when Samsung Electronics Co. launches a player. On the same day Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Lionsgate Films will launch several movies on Blu-ray Disc.

But the future of the market is far from certain. A competing format called HD-DVD is also about to be launched and offers much of the same benefits so users will be faced with choosing one of two competing formats or putting off a purchase until a dominant format has emerged.

Executives from the Blu-ray Disc Association talked up their format at Cebit on Thursday and supporting companies announced hardware launch plans. Pioneer Corp. previewed an upcoming Blu-ray Disc drive for computers and both Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Panasonic) and Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV said they would launch consumer players in the second half of this year.

Philips said its computer drive, the SPD700, will be available in the U.S. in the second half and will be able to write to recordable BD-R and rewritable BD-RW media in addition to DVD and CD formats. No price was given for the drive.

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