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A leading maker of consumer electronics, Panasonic, announced plans to ship blank Blu-ray disk media to the United States in spring 2006. The company will supply recordable and rewritable single-layer and dual-layer discs targeting customers seeking for high-capacity removable storage solutions.

Panasonic will ship four types of Blu-ray discs to the U.S. this year: recordable 25GB single-layer and 50GB dual-layer discs for $17.99 and $42.99 respectively as well as rewritable 25GB and 50GB discs for $24.99 and $59.99 respectively. The blank media can be used with Blu-ray disc burners at the speed of up to 2x and then read by consumer electronics or personal computer equipment capable of Blu-ray discs playback.

Panasonic said its Blu-ray discs employ a number of exclusive technologies developed by the company, which, in addition to time and money required for research and development, also involved usage of production equipment not utilised previously, which are one of the main reasons why the discs cost significantly more compared to typical DVDs and HD DVDs. Still, such price premium is unlikely to be effective for long – Sony, the main driving force behind the Blu-ray – said that in case of mass production the significant price differences between the Blu-ray and other types of media would erode quickly.

The company indicated that it uses developed in-house highly sensitive and durable recording film for rewritable discs and inorganic material which is unaffected by light is utilized for recordable discs. Panasonic BD discs also use an advanced spin coating process technology to form the cover layer with extremely uniform thickness, furthermore, newly-developed surface-treatment technology enables a significant boost in disc resistance to scratches and abrasions, ensuring high reliability and durability, according to the manufacturer.

Panasonic is expected to unveil its Blu-ray disc burners for personal computers (PCs) in the first quarter of 2006, whereas the consumer players are likely to emerge in Q2.

Recently announced PC BD burner and BD disk player for consumers from Pioneer have suggested retail price of $995 and $1800 respectively.

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