Dell chooses Blu-ray format for notebook

Dell launched a notebook PC Monday with the ability to play high-definition Blu-ray discs, marking a vote against the competing HD-DVD storage standard

Dell added Blu-ray disc capability to its notebook PC line on Monday, making an effort to compete with Sony and Toshiba in the growing market for mobile high-definition video platforms.

In addition to showing high-end movies and games, Dell's XPS M1710 notebook could serve as a central node to support digital entertainment throughout the home, the company said. Customers can save 50G bytes of either data or video on a single Blu-ray disc.

The ability to read and write data to the discs differentiates Blu-ray from HD-DVD, the competing standard for high-definition video, analysts said. Laptops with HD-DVD capability have lower prices but cannot save data to the discs, said Samir Bhavnani, research director at Current Analysis.

"You are starting to see the different camps emerge within the computing companies, with Toshiba and Acer on the HD-DVD side and Sony and Dell on the Blu-ray side," he said. Sony's Vaio VGN-AR270 uses Blu-ray discs, while Acer's notebook and Toshiba's Qosmio G35-AV650 use HD-DVD.

Blu-ray and HD-DVD are improvements over standard DVD optical discs; they hold more data and let users watch high-definition video. All three techniques are optical discs, storing data in a binary form that is read by a scanning laser. But a Blu-ray disc can hold five times the capacity of a dual-layer DVD, Dell said.

Movie studios and video game producers are eager to sell films on the new media, but the flow of new titles is only a trickle so far because content providers and hardware vendors can't decide which standard will prevail.

Pricing starts at US$3,699 for the XPS M1710, including an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4G bytes of memory and up to 160G bytes of storage on a serial ATA hard drive.

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Ben Ames

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