BenQ to launch Blu-ray Disc writer in August

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BenQ plans to launch a Blu-ray Disc writer at the end of August, one of the first companies to release such a device.

The Taiwanese company, which announced the recorder in early June at Computex, will initially sell it in Europe, China and Taiwan for €799 (US$1,022), a spokesman for BenQ said Tuesday. The price includes the value added tax (VAT) in Europe.

Dubbed the BW1000, the new Blu-ray writer will also read and write DVDs and CDs, making it compatible with the most common forms of disc storage media on the market.

Blu-ray technology, which uses a blue laser instead of the red and infrared lasers used with DVDs and CDs, allows users to store far more data on a single DVD or CD disc. The BW1000 will be able to record up to two hours of high definition TV on a single sided Blu-ray disc, which has a capacity of 25G bytes. It can hold 13 hours of standard TV content, BenQ said. A double layer Blu-ray disc would allow users to store 50G bytes of data on a single disc.

Blu-ray Disc is one of two technologies vying to replace DVD for high-definition content. The battle between Blu-ray Disc and the competing HD DVD format is a high stakes game because the two aren’t compatible. The loser could easily drop out of the consumer market, much like what happened to the Betamax video cassette format, which lost out to VHS (video home system) in the 1980s.

Users face a dilemma in choosing one format over the other because they could end up with the one that loses the battle for supremacy, which might mean, for example, that over time fewer movie studios offer titles on the format.

HD DVD is backed by Toshiba, the DVD Forum, and tech giants including Microsoft and Intel The champions of Blu-ray Disc include Sony, Matsushita (Panasonic), Samsung and others.

One of the keys to gaining market acceptance will be the price of players and recorders, analysts say. BenQ’s BW1000 Blu-ray Disc recorder is attractively priced relative to a Blu-ray Disc player Panasonic plans to launch later this year for around $1,500.

Toshiba began selling the world’s first HD-DVD player in March in Japan for ¥110,000 (US$960).

This story, "BenQ to launch Blu-ray Disc writer in August" was originally published by PCWorld.

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