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Sony Electronics, a leading maker of consumer electronics, has quietly changed the availability dates for its Blu-ray disc player. Even though the company consistently cites issues with Blu-ray laser production, its rivals – Panasonic and Samsung – are shipping their Blu-ray disc players without problems.

Instead of mid-August, or mid-October, Sony’s BDP-S1 will be shipped “on or about the 4th of December”, about half of a year later than originally anticipated, according to SonyStyle web-site. The reasons for the delay are unclear, as companies like Panasonic and Samsung are shipping their Blu-ray disc players in volumes.

Earlier it was reported that Sony was stockpiling Blu-ray lasers for the highly-anticipated PlayStation 3 game consoles in an attempt to produce more gaming machines. This does not seem logical, because the first batches of consumer electronics components that cost about $999 are not generally large. For example, Toshiba was only estimated to ship about 30 000 HD DVD players in the first three months. According to some other estimates, 10 000 to 15 000 units have been shipped in the U.S. to satisfy this first wave of demand. Moreover, computer makers – including Sony itself – started to integrate Blu-ray drives into computers. Finally, Blu-ray disc players are much cheaper – and more lucrative – to manufacture than to make PlayStation 3.

Traditional single-layer DVDs allow consumers to watch movies in 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL) resolution with Dolby Digital audio. 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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