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Panasonic, one of the world’s leading consumer electronics companies, is set to ship its Blu-ray disc optical drives for desktop personal computer to its home market in Japan in about a month from now. But while the second Blu-ray disc burner on the market is going to be more affordable than the first one from Pioneer, it will still have a price-tage not suitable for mainstream buyer.

A report over Japanese web-site PC Watch claims that Panasonic’s recently unveiled LF-MB121JD will cost approximately ?100 thousand, which is about $900. This is more affordable than $995 price-point of Pioneer’s BRD-101A, however, this price level is not enough cost-effective for general users, something, which is crucially important for Blu-ray standard to get popular.

Such an extreme price tag is not surprising, as manufacturing costs of blue-laser players is very high according to analysts. With the servo chipset, optical pick-up, H.264 decoder and royalties making up the majority of the cost, the initial estimates for the bill of materials for blue-laser disc players is over $400, it was recently reported. Most of the costs are forecasted to decline considerably by 2010, except for royalties. 

Panasonic’s LF-MB121JD, complied with Blu-ray disc association’s BD-R, BD-RE and BD-ROM standards, can read and write single-layer 25 GB and single-sided, dual-layer 50 GB BDs. Supporting the three generations of optical discs, the 41.3mm high internal BD drive is compatible with 11 different writable CD and DVD optical discs and 13 different readable optical disc formats, according to the company.

The drive also comes bundled with a wide variety of software to help users easily backup and archive a large amount of data, edit video and audio and intuitively drag and drop data for DVD and CD burning, the firm indicated.

While Panasonic did not say it was going to sell its own-branded BD drives outside its home market, it indicated that it made available the half-height BD drive for desktop computers and slim-line slot and tray loading BD drives for notebook PCs for its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) business clients starting April, 2006. Lenovo, the maker of IBM ThinkPad laptops is among the optical drive clients of Panasonic.

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