Pioneer to ship Blu-ray drive in Q1

Long Beach (CA) - Pioneer is the first company to announce a Blu-ray disc drive for the global market. Other than the first CD and DVD drives, the Blu-ray device will be able to read and write BD media. No change of tradition should be expected for pricing: The first generation of Blu-ray drives will carry a hefty price tag.

High Definition video will be one of the main topics at the Consumer Electronics Show in the first week of January with supporters of the HD DVD and Blu-ray groups competing for the attention of the show's visitors. Pioneer is first to make headlines by announcing the first BD drive.

The BDR-101A will be shipping in the first quarter of 2006, very likely in limited quantities and with a steep price tag north of $500, sources indicated. The manufacturer released few details on the availability of the device and simply stated that "this first generation product will be targeted primarily to professional users and serious enthusiasts, generally the first to adopt new technology." Pioneer expects especially creators of digital content to snap up the devices.

The drive will be capable of reading and writing a wide variety of formats, including movies on BD-ROMs, BD-R/REs (2X), DVD-R/+R (8X) and DVD-RW/+RW (4X). It was unclear, if the device will support single- and dual-layer recordable BD media. The press release says that the drive "can store up to 25 GB of information on a single layer Blu-ray Disc."

Company representatives were not reachable to clarify, if the device also supports 50 GB dual-layer discs, which recently entered mass production in Panasonic's and TDK's manufacturing facilities.