LG launches Blu-ray Disc PC burner

LG Electronics will launch a Blu-ray Disc burner drive in its home market on Wednesday and plans to put the product on sale in Europe in September

LG Electronics is adding its name to a long list of companies producing Blu-ray Disc writer drives for PCs.

The South Korean company will launch a drive in its home market on Wednesday and plans to sell it in Europe in September, said Young Rha, an LG Electronics spokesman.

Like other Blu-ray Disc drives from competitors, the LG model doesn't come cheap: it will cost 900,000 won (US$945). LG will also sell a PC featuring the drive. The machine is powered by a dual core Pentium D945 processor running at 3.4GHz, has 320G bytes of hard-disk space and 1G byte of memory and will cost 3.5 million won.

The drive supports data recording at up to 4X speed, which LG says is a first.

Following its launch this week in South Korea, LG will aim at the European market and sell the drive in France and Germany next month, said Rha. It plans to expand sales to other markets including the U.S. but has yet to decide on a schedule, he said.

LG's strategy in the next-generation optical disc market is being closely watched after it disclosed in March that it is also developing a drive for HD DVD, the rival format to Blu-ray Disc. As a major backer of Blu-ray Disc, the announcement caused some surprise at the Cebit trade show in Germany.

At present, the company is keeping its options open, Rha said. While it plans to put Blu-ray Disc products on sale it has no concrete plans at present to do the same with an HD DVD drive, he said.

In addition to the new writer drive, LG has at least one other Blu-ray Disc product in the pipeline: a consumer movie player, set to hit the market by the end of this year. It is also preparing LG-branded Blu-ray Disc media, he said.

A significant jump in competition in the next-generation optical disc market is expected later this year when Sony introduces its PlayStation 3 games console, which features an internal Blu-ray Disc player. Microsoft is also preparing an HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360 console and consumer electronics makers are preparing second-generation players and recorders. Earlier this year Samsung Electronics also said it is developing a drive that can handle both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD discs.

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Martyn Williams

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