BenQ's presence at CeBIT 2005 was impressive, with a very large booth covering all areas of BenQ's production.
Our attention was immediately drawn to the big logo on the wall and an array with the various editor's choice awards,
including, CDRInfo's Editors Choice award:
The main attraction of the booth, for optical storage lovers, was a working PC Blu-Ray drive along with a desktop Blu-Ray recorder. The PC Blu-Ray prototype drive is the BW1000, and is identified as a "PHILIPS BLU-RAY" under Windows:
Below we can see the lens/pickup unit of the prototype drive, along with Blu-Ray media:
According to BenQ/Philips, the Blu-Ray format is the way to go for the future, since the format has higher capacity (30GB) than HD-DVD (15GB) and can have interactive content. The used filesystem is UDF 2.60 revision (announced this week!) while future Blu-Ray plans include Double Layer, increasing capacity to 50GB! The used error correction is still Reed Solomon, while the writing speed of the prototype was 2X (CLV) and BenQ said that 4X and 5X should also be possible, but 6X is not possible since the data density is very high. The protection mechanism of Blu-Ray and HD DVD is more or less the same, with a strong encryption method using a large key...
We asked BenQ if the codec used by the Blu-Ray format would be H264 AVC or Microsoft's WMVHD codec. The answer was not very clear, but Blu-Ray can use either Mpeg2 or Mpeg4 AVC content, although we wouldn't bet our odds in favor of Microsoft...
The first commercial drives are expected end of 2005, original schedule was for Q1 of 2006, but it seems the competing HD DVD format changed plans, with a push for an earlier shipment. We asked BenQ for an estimated price for the drive, but don't expect low prices, where an initial price of $400 could be considered as safe, although we should wait a while until the drives hit the shelves, or it has been tested by our labs. The media could be another issue, although users will be able to burn 25GB with either BenQ/Philips or TDK Blu-Ray BD-R media and hopefully MKM will have released media by that date as well, after its announcement at the CeBIT 2005 Blu-Ray seminar.