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Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Sony's Blu-ray Player Available Late 2006

Sony said it plans to release a player in Japan after October, giving Toshiba at least a six-month head start.

The Japanese player, which can also record, will be released after a planned U.S. model in October, Kiyoshi Nishitani, the executive in charge of Sony's Blu-ray business, said at a news conference in Tokyo on Thusday. Toshiba started sales of its HD DVD player in March.

"We hope to start selling a recorder player in Japan within this year," said Nishitani. About 75 movie titles in Blu-ray will be released in autumn, the company said.

Sony and Toshiba are seeking support from movie studios and computer companies for their high-definition DVD formats that offer better picture quality and greater recording capacity. Sony, which delayed the introduction of its PlayStation 3 game console until November because of Blu-ray, is battling Toshiba to set the standard format for home entertainment.

Toshiba said between 100 and 150 HD DVD titles will be available in Japan and Europe by December, and 150 to 200 movies in the U.S.

Global shipments of high-definition DVD players and recorders are expected to reach 800,000 units this year, and will rise almost eightfold to 6.2 million next year, according to market researcher ISuppli. Standard DVD player shipments are projected to gain 4.4 percent to 162.3 million units, it said.

Toshiba retails its HD DVD players in Japan for about 100,000 yen ($857) each, and said it aims to sell between 600,000 and 700,000 units by March 2007.

Sony's Nishitani declined to comment on prices for Sony's recorder player. The company is offering the device in Japan because he said Japanese consumers prefer recording digital television programs and their own movies with digital cameras. A player-only model will be sold in the U.S.

Samsung, the first company to offer Blu-ray players, started sales in the U.S. in June, a month behind schedule because it was testing the compatibility of the player with the discs.

LG is also scheduling the launch of its first Blu-Ray player later this year. Japanese Pioneer is set to release its first Blu-Ray player late September.

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