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In a an attempt to offer Macintosh uses high definition videos, following Toshiba, Sony and others, Apple Computer is expected to release its first systems with Blu-ray drives in the beginning of next year. Currently there are no details available, but one of the reasons for Apple to integrate Blu-ray early next year is to offer some competition to Microsoft Windows Vista-equipped PC, which are expected to have “native” support for HD DVD.

A short news-story filed by ThinkSecret web-site claims that according to industry rumors Apple is scheduled to receive the first Blu-ray drives for Macs in February. While details beyond that are unavailable, it is still noticeable event that Apple is considering to release a desktop or notebook with a high definition digital video disc.

Currently it is unknown whether the new drive will rely on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard for out-of-the box support, or whether an update adding support for the drive will be released for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Apple Computer is a member of Blu-Ray disc association, however, Apple said in mid-2005 that it was committed to both emerging high definition DVD standards - Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD. In fact, Apple has always been an active member of the DVD Forum which developed the HD DVD standard, and joined the board of directors of the Blu-ray disc association only in March, 2005.

It is currently unclear whether Apple plans to release systems with HD DVD drives and if yes, when exactly.

As is known, Microsoft Windows Vista operating system will have native support for HD DVD format and will not require any additional software to work with the new discs. Meanwhile, Blu-ray discs will require additional programs to be installed onto the Vista-equipped computer for playback and other actions. Currently Asus, Acer, HP and Toshiba already sell notebooks equipped with HD DVD, whereas Sony is supplying Blu-ray drive-equipped machines.

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, Intel, Microsoft 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 DVD is supported by New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Blu-ray disc is supported by Paramount Pictures, Sony Picturtes, Twentieth Century Fox , Universal Pictures, Walt Disney and Warner Bros.

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