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Friday, April 02, 2004
New Blu-Ray drives available by Sony in May

Sony will begin selling four BD drive products in Japan in May. The products are addressed for backup and audio/video production applications. Two BD auto-changers have been also announced.

The BW-RS101 drive is intended primarily for back-up applications, and comes with an ultra-160 SCSI interface. It is priced initially at $3,960. The nex model is the BW-RU101, which provides a USB-2 port, and is intended more for audio-video production applications. It will carry a $4,150 price tag. Both drives can use either the rewritable PDDRW23 or the write-once PDDRW023 23.3GB disks. No pricing on either disk format had been announced yet.

There are also two Sony BD auto-changers that will be placed on the market in May. Model BW-J601-10 includes one drive, along with space for 67 disks, and is priced at $15,000. If capacity is fully utilized, it can store 1.56 terabytes in a very small package. Model BW-J601-20 provides two drives and houses 62 disks. It is priced at $18,870, and provides a maximum storage capacity of 1.44TB. All of these BD drives are intended for heavy-duty applications, but lower cost versions for use with PCs in the office or home are expected to become available as time passes.

On the other hand, the rival AOD technology camp has not yet shown any drives,players, or recorders on the market anywhere. There was however a broad selection of professional digital high-definition video camcorders and studio units using quarter-inch tape cartridges available, and several D-VHS digital video tape recorders capable of accommodating high-definition recording applications, these priced at just below $1,000 in the U.S. JVC also offers a consumer HD camcorder using quarter-inch DV cassettes. A line of high-definition recorders for consumer use, also using DV cassettes, has been announced by Sony, JVC, and several other companies. There will therefore be no shortage of options for the consumer when the time is appropriate for the purchase of high-definition recording and playback equipment.

With the first DVD-generation of VDRs just now becoming generally available, it seems reasonable to believe that it will be 2006 or 2007 before any but the Japanese market shows much interest in high-definition recording devices and media.

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