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Blue for Everywhere: Samsung Demos External Blu-Ray Disc Player

High definition video and games are here: there are plenty of full-HD televisions and monitors and a number of new games support 1920x1200 or even 2560x1600 resolution. Even so, the amount of affordable Blu-ray (BD) or HD DVD players and optical drives for personal computers is negligible: the war of formats is paying off and optical drive makers do not desire to unveil really broad ranges of blue-laser products.

Another issue with the availability of BD and HD DVD optical drives is that computer makers are reluctant to put them inside their systems due to concern about demand from end-users at the current price points and necessity to hold additional inventory. Given that both Blu-ray and HD DVD drives are still pretty expensive to manufacture, the time, when either of them will find a place inside mainstream computers, does not seem to be close.

One of the ways to popularize high definition video formats on the PC is to create more or less affordable external optical disc drives, as a lot more people would get an additional drive rather than a new PC and not all end-users are experienced enough to open up their computers and install an internal optical drive. But a dilemma with external drives is that they tend to be even more expensive than internal ones.

At CeBIT 2007 Samsung Electronics demonstrated its SE-B046 external Blu-ray disc drive that can be used for both playback and recording. The device itself looks pretty stylish, but its apparent drawback is its size: it is nearly two times larger compared to an internal 5.25” drive, which means that it cannot be taken into a travel to enjoy high definition movies while in a hotel.

Currently it is unknown when Samsung plans to release the SE-B046 and at what price-point, but some sources suggest that the first product to actually come to the market will be SE-B024 with lower speeds. Clearly, today there are no external Blu-ray disc recorders on the market, hence, there is no direct competitors for the product. However, Samsung will evidently face competition from Microsoft’s Xbox 360 HD DVD player, which works on personal computers without problems, as well as HP’s external HD DVD ROM; even though neither can record HD DVDs, both BD and HD DVD media is very expensive at the moment and demand for recording feature is unlikely to be high.

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