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Blu-ray to hit US in May

Well, eight movies and one player...

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Blu-ray Disc will go on sale in the US on 23 May, according to Sony's home video division, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, MGM Home Entertainment and Samsung. The South Korean giant will ship its BD-P1000 hardware on that date, ready to play the eight - count 'em - films the two content companies will release on the same day.

Viewers who've worked their way through all eight movies will be able to buy seven more on 13 June. On that date, Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop, Stealth, Species, SWAT and Terminator will join the already released 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight's Tale, The Last Waltz, Resident Evil Apocalypse and XXX.

Samsung's ship date puts the company a little way behind the April timeframe it forecast at CES in January this year. However, it should still hit the market first, ahead of other BD-supporting hardware vendors, with Pioneer's BDP-HD1 and a Sony Vaio PC with integrated BD drive due "shortly" afterward, according to the Blu-ray Disc Association.

The BD-P1000 will pump out HD content at 720p or 1080i resolutions, Samsung said. Supported audio formats include 192KHz LPCM, Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, MPEG 2, DTS, and MP3. The machine will play users' existing DVD and CD libraries, along with content stored on DVD-RAM and DVD±R/RW discs, and it has a memory card reader capable of taking Compact Flash, XD, Micro Drive, SD, MMC and RS-MMC, and MemoryStick and Memory Stick Duo cards. Ports built into the device include CVBS Output, S-Video Output, component output, HDMI, and both digital and analog audio outputs.

Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc player

Pioneer also announced its player at CES, saying it would ship in June - a more accurate forecast, it seems. Other players due in this early Summer timeframe include Panasonic (said at CES to be scheduled to ship Summer 2006) and LG, whose BD199 will ship in "the second quarter", it said at CES. Sony announced a more cautious "early summer" for its BDP-S1 player, and Philips an even more pragmatic "second half of 2006". ®

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