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Blu-ray Disc developers complete specification

Tech ready for licensing as backers unveil players

CES The Blu-ray Disc specification has been completed, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) announced last night, just three days after dotting the i's and crossing the t's on the format.

Given the announcements of BD players and content made at the Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas this week, we'd certainly hope it had been completed, to allow hardware companies to finalise designs in time to take them to retail from April.

That, at least, is when Samsung has promised to ship. Sony announced a more cautious "early summer", Philips an even more pragmatic "second half of 2006". To these three we can add player unveilings made by Pioneer (its BDP-HD1 will be available in "June" for $1800), Panasonic ("summer 2006") and LG (its BD199 will ship in "the second quarter").

The only question now, is when Sony's other BD thrust, PlayStation 3, will launch. This is crucial: as the head of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Kaz Hirai, said last night, "PS3 will significantly contribute to the consumer acceptance of BD".

Further parties may make announcements going forward now that the BD spec. is done. According to the BDA, it's now ready to license BD-ROM, BD-R and BD-RE to interested parties. The spec. includes single-layer (25GB) and dual-layer (50GB) forms. As anticipated, the spec. includes support for managed copying, allowing, for example, copies of content to be made to allow it to be streamed to other display systems in the home.

HP was present at CES' HD DVD bash, but in name only at the BD do. However, the company has been showing behind closed doors computers equipped with HD DVD drives and machines with BD drives, so like Redwald of East Anglia, a Dark Age English king, HP is playing safe by building shrines to both the Christian god and the Pagan pantheon. Just in case, you understand... ®

LG Blu-ray Disc Player

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