Pioneer Set for Blu-ray Delivery

Blu-ray is getting closer to reality.

Pioneer Electronics announced today it expects to ship one of the first Blu-ray drives in the first quarter of 2006. Blue-
is a new high capacity storage media that can store up to 25 gigabytes of information on a single disc.

Pioneer is not yet saying what the drives are likely to be priced at, but the company says this “first generation product” will be targeted primarily at professional users and serious technology enthusiasts such as content creators. The drive will come equipped with a data recording application to transfer digital files to Blu-ray discs.

“Storage capacity in a stable medium is critical,” said Andy Parsons, senior vice president at Pioneer Electronics, in a statement. “A few years ago, no one could imagine needing more storage than available on a CD-R. Yet today, we need multiple DVDs just to back up the numerous photo and video files on our computers.”

Blu-ray has broader backing than a competing format, HD-DVD, but the latter has heavyweight supporters including Intel, Microsoft
and Toshiba.

HP announced earlier this month that it would support both
after originally only supporting Blu-ray.

Like Blu-ray, DVD players that use HD-DVD technology aren’t expected until 2006, but Forrester Research has already tabbed Blu-ray the winner, citing its greater capacity, Java support and ability to be used in games and computers.

Blu-ray and HD-DVD use blue lasers, which have a shorter wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD players. This allows discs to store data at the higher densities needed for high-definition TV.

Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment support the Blu-ray format. A number of announcements are expected from both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD camps at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In an interview
with last month, Info-tech Research analyst Curtis Gittens said, “No IT manager should even consider these technologies until the dust has settled.”

Gittens added that even if or when one standard emerges, IT managers that are comfortable with their disk and tape archiving systems “will have no immediate compelling reason to switch to optical.”

However, at least one vendor has plans to release enterprise storage products based on the new optical formats. A Sony spokesperson said the company plans to introduce Blu-ray optical storage products next year.

“Blu-Ray will be more than a consumer technology,” the spokesperson said. “Sony is planning a Blu-ray storage drive targeted for IT environments.”

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