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Thursday, June 24, 2004
Panasonic to unveil HD Blu-ray drive

Matsushita Electric, better known by its Panasonic brand name, will unveil its first Blu-ray Disc recorder next week, the company said.

The new machine is being launched to capture consumer demand for recording of high-definition television coverage of this year's Olympic Games, which begin on August 11, Matsushita said. The new recorder will be unveiled on June 30 in Tokyo.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) is planning extensive coverage of the Olympics including 280 hours of live and recorded coverage in high definition via digital satellite.

Because of the time difference between Greece and Japan many of the events will be airing late at night when most viewers are asleep, so companies like Matsushita are aggressively promoting digital video recorders based on DVD or hard-disk drive to allow viewers to watch Olympic events at their leisure. However, most of these recorders are unable to duplicate high-definition television and so reduce the resolution to that of conventional broadcasts. The new Blu-ray recorder will be able to retain the high-resolution picture.

But the pricing of the recorder may put off would-be buyers. Sony, which is the only company that currently sells a Blu-ray Disc recorder, put its machine on sale in Japan in April last year and currently sells it for around ¥300,000 (around 1,500). The pricing for the Panasonic has not yet been made public.


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