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Now Playing: Dell's Blu-ray Support

Dell  cast its lot with Blu-ray in the format battles over next-generation optical DVD a few years ago. Now, it's following through on that commitment by rolling out support for the optical disc format on its high-end XPSTM M1710 consumer notebook computer.

The Blu-ray option on the notebook lines signals that Dell is not just talking the talk in siding with Blu-ray over rival format HD-DVD over which DVD storage format to deploy.

Dell has seen the future with digital media, games and movies especially. With seven of eight major Hollywood studios supporting Blu-ray with over 100 feature titles in release, Dell's strategy in high-end media PCs is playing out in its latest notebook option.

The Blu-ray drive in the XPS M1710 supports read/write capabilities across CD, DVD and Blu-ray Disc media, said Mark Spier of Dell's peripherals marketing client product group.

One thing Dell really likes about Blu-ray over HD-DVD is how much data Blu-ray, with its optical-scanning feature, can slurp; up to 50GB of data or theater-quality video on a single piece of media with the M1710 system, he told internetnews.com. "We think it will become the optical drive standard."

Spier said Dell is also working with the industry to advance Blu-ray's laser-driven technology. So far, Dell counts more than 170 major companies that support Blu-ray, including consumer electronics, computer video games, recording media, music and movie studios in the mix.

The key benefit, Dell's Spier added, is the picture quality at 48 Mbps in replay and the high-definition resolution. In one demonstration, Spier pointed to the clarity in depth of field in Blu-ray, compared to HD-DVD-based DVD movies.

The support also features up to 7.1 channels of uncompressed surround sound and options for up to 32 audio streams for cinematic sound. It's also backwards compatible with CDs and older DVDs, which enables DVD and CD movie playback, DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD) authoring and CD, DVD and BD data burning.

With Dell taking a step along with Blu-ray supporter Sony (whose latest Playstation is Blu-ray format versus Microsoft's HD-DVD XBox), could Blu-ray be building a backlash of momentum of its own over the HD-DVD format, which costs less?

The interesting thing about Dell's support for Blu-ray, noted Wolfgang Schlichting, research director for research firm IDC, is that most companies that support the Blu-ray format over HD-DVD are strongest in the consumer electronics sector, such as Sony  and Apple .

"I think it plays to the fact that Dell might have ambitions in other devices in broad areas beyond just [being] a PC company," Schlichting told internetnews.com. "These might be convergence devices that would be sold more through a [consumer electronics-type] channel. But again, it's probably not a primary motivator," he added. "I think Dell is positioning itself more as an industry leader, rather than being a fast-follower."