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Sony Electronics announced that it had begun to ship its single-layer blank Blu-ray optical media and said it would start supplies of dual-layer discs in June. Additionally, Sony confirmed its plans to equip its computers with Blu-ray disc drives.

Sony’s BD-R (write-once) 25GB and BD-RE (rewritable) 25GB recording media have suggested retail prices of $20 and $25, respectively.  The soon to come BD-R 50GB and BD-RE 50GB recording media will have suggested retail prices of $48 and $60, respectively, similar to pricing on TDK’s or Panasonic’s BD media.

In addition to media, Sony said it would soon offer “a wide range of Blu-ray disc devices”, including a Blu-ray disc player, Vaio desktop and notebook computers, and an internal Blu-ray disc drive for PCs.

Traditional single-layer DVDs allow consumers to watch movies in 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL) resolution with Dolby Digital audio, or record up to 8GB of data. The blue-laser discs will provide consumers 1920x1080 resolution as well as DTS or Dolby Digital Plus audio along with some additional interactive features.

Blu-ray and HD DVD formats compete for replacing the DVD standard. HD DVD discs can store up to 15GB on a single layer and up to 30GB on two layers. Its competitor, Blu-ray, can store up to 27GB per single layer and up to 50GB on two layers, but Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce. The HD DVD is pushed aggressively by Toshiba and NEC as well as being standardized at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies worldwide. Blu-ray is backed by Sony and Panasonic, which are among the world’s largest makers of electronics. Among Hollywood studios HD is supported by Warner Bros. Studios, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, whereas Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox endorse Blu-ray.

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