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Blu-ray movie disc format unveiled

BD-ROM to challenge HD-DVD

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The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has approved the first full version of its read-only disc specification. The move paves the way for the format's adoption as a content distribution system to rival the next generation of the DVD format, HD-DVD.

BD-ROM players are set to ship late next year, with content coming through around the same time, the BDA said. At this stage, Sony is the only major content provider to have publicly confirmed its willingness to offer BD-ROM discs: Sony Pictures Entertainment will offer BD-ROM high-definition movies in Japan. The company's disc manufacturing wing is, however, promoting BD-ROM to studios in the US.

Sony Computer Entertainment recently revealed its plans to equip the PlayStation 3 with a BD drive, which is likely to strengthen Blu-ray as a consumer format.

With the BD-ROM 1.0 specification now in place, media manufacturers can now licence the technology - for an undisclosed royalty fee - and begin to prepare Blu-ray production lines. The BDA says that Blu-ray disc production costs are no more expensive than that of DVDs. However, manufacturers will need new duplication equipment. By contrast, HD-DVD simply requires a re-tooling of existing production lines, the DVD Forum says. ®

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