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BenQ, a maker of computer components from Taiwan, as well as Sony, the key member of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), plan to market their BD-ROM optical drives in the first half of next year.

According to associate vice president Alpha Tsai for BenQ’s storage business unit, the company plans to offer blue-laser format DVD-ROM drives based on the Blu-ray platform in the first or second quarter of 2006, reports DigiTimes web-site. Sony also plans to offer PC-use Blu-ray drives in the first quarter of next year, Taiwanese industry sources reportedly pointed out.

In early August manufacturers of optical discs from Taiwan indicated that they would support HD DVD standard of next-generation optical drives firstly and only afterwards would produce Blu-ray discs, if the technology is adopted widely. The reasons behind the plan are lower transition costs to the HD DVD.

Another maker of optical drives, Lite-On, also has not yet chosen which format of the next-generation DVDs to support, but it intends to offer blue-laser optical disc drives when the market emerges, which is the Q1 2005 at the earliest, according to the company.

Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD) is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by thirteen leading consumer electronics and PC companies, such as Dell, Hitachi, HP, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson. The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition television (HDTV). Blu-ray makes it possible to record over 2 hours of HDTV, or more than 13 hours of SDTV on a 27GB disc. There are also plans for higher capacity discs that are expected to hold up to 54GB of data.

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