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Pioneer Electronics, a maker of various electronics equipment, on Tuesday confirmed its intention to ship Blu-ray optical drives for personal computers (PCs) in the first quarter of 2006. The first drives are said to be oriented on professionals in the first place, still, the announcement will give ability to use Blu-ray discs to everyone providing higher capacities.

“A few years ago, no one could imagine needing more storage than available on a CD-R. Yet today, we need multiple DVDs just to back up the numerous photo and video files on our computers. Blu-ray Disc technology fulfills the rapidly growing need for more storage space and Pioneer is proud to be one of the first companies bringing it to market,” said Andy Parsons, senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics USA Inc.

The Pioneer BRD-101A drive can playback, read, record and re-write DVDs (recordable discs at 8x and rewritable discs at 4x) as well as playback, read and record single-layer 25GB Blu-Ray discs (at up to 2x), but cannot read or write conventional CD and DVD-RAM discs as well as HD DVDs. It is noteworthy that the BRD-101A is designed for Parallel ATA, which has been gradually replaced by Serial ATA on the market.  The device was already certified by numerous technical inspectors, such as T?V already in July, 2005.

This first generation product will be targeted primarily to professional users and serious enthusiasts, generally the first to adopt new technology. In particular, content creators will depend on Blu-ray disc writers to test and evaluate high definition consumer Blu-ray disc titles during the authoring process before replication, Pioneer explained. The drive will come equipped with a data recording application to transfer digital files to Blu-ray discs.

Pricing of the part is unclear. Also the availability of Blu-ray discs in the U.S. and Europe is uncertain.

Sony plans to release its own BD drive in the Q1 2006, whereas BenQ intends to launch its BD device for computers in the Q2 2006. Philips originally promised to commercially supply its BD-ROM drive in the second half of 2005. So far only NEC has released its HD DVD, the arch-rival format, optical drive for personal computers.

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