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Thursday, October 14, 2004
Small discs for camcorders get the blue light


A group promoting blue-laser optical discs is developing a smaller version of the technology for devices such as camcorders in an effort to make the format more widely accepted.

The Blu-ray Disc Association announced last week that the smaller Blu-ray Discs will have an 8-centimeter diameter, as opposed to the more familiar 12-centimeter discs, and will have capacities of 15GB per layer. That will give the 8-centimeter discs about the same storage capacity as 12-centimeter HD DVD discs.

Some manufacturers have started to market flash memory video cameras. Flash memory cards, however, currently can hold only a few gigabytes of data and can cost a few hundred dollars at those densities. Dual-sided Blu-ray discs will be capable of holding up to 50GB of data, compared with 4.7GB on current DVDs.

On the other hand, the density of flash memory cards continually improve, and cameras with flash cards are smaller than camcorders with discs. A flash-based video camera recently released from Sanyo is about the size of an electric shaver.

Sony and Panasonic have already started to sell Blu-ray disc players in Japan. Wider worldwide proliferation is expected to occur next year. Sony will also use the technology in the next version of the PlayStation. A number of other manufacturers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, have joined the Blu-ray Association.

Intel, which is a member of the consortium promoting the rival HD DVD format, has also expressed interest in Blu-ray. Speaking at Ceatec last week, Kevin Corbett, an Intel executive who is handling many of the chipmaker's content and security negotiations with Hollywood, praised the Blu-ray organization for working to adopt industry copyright-protection standards.

However, he stopped short from saying Intel would join the group, which Japan's JVC did this week.


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