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Sony pitches blue-laser Compact Disc revival

Compatible with Red Book CD standard

New hybrid storage solutions

Sony failed to tune the masses into its better-than-Compact-Disc format, Super Audio CD, so it's having another go, this time with technology derived from Blu-ray Disc.

Dubbed Blu-spec CD, the system uses a blue laser to write the audio data rather than a red laser. And... er... that's it. The format delivers exactly the same recording capacity as a CD and uses the audio encoding mechanism enshrined in the CD bible, the so-called Red Book.

The upshot: Blu-spec CDs can be played in old-style CD and DVD players, Sony Music Entertainment (SME), the giant's Japanese audio operation, said yesterday.

Sony's Blu-spec CD

The secret's in the better definition of the pits

In which case, why bother? Sony's pitch is that Blu-spec CD is all about increasing the physical quality of the pit-making process by which audio data is embedded on the disc. Blu-burned pits are better defined which, in turns, means they can be read more accurately which reduces errors and makes for better-sounding music.

It's not an entirely philanthropic move: shifting to Blu-spec means SME can eliminate red-laser production equipment in favour of blue-only systems, allowing its disc production facilities to punch out Blu-spec CDs alongside Blu-ray Discs, cutting costs.

SMA also gets to charge more the for the same content: ¥2500-4200 ($25.57-42.97/£15.80-27.15), rather more than CDs cost.

Will Japanese consumers go for it? SME is launching some 60 Blu-spec CDs, covering a wide range of musical genres, on 24 December to see. Will it ever debut over here? Somehow, in the age of iTunes and SanDisk's SlotMusic, we doubt it.

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