Sony ships Blu-ray discs

Park Ridge (NJ) - Following a wave of delays surrounding its next generation media format, Sony today sprinkled some positive news and said that it has begun shipping recordable Blu-ray discs for PC.

The announcement arrives not quite four weeks after TDK claimed it was first to send 25 GB and 50 GB versions of BD-Rs (write-once) and BD-RWs (rewriteable) into the retail channel. Second out of the gate, Sony offers the same capacities and basic features, but promotes some unique features of its media, which listen to the names BD-R in write-once and BD-RE in rewriteable format.

"Sony knows Blu-ray technology like no other company," said Mike Lucas, director of marketing for Sony Electronics' Media and Application Solutions Division. "Coupled with our unique Accucore technology, we expect our Blu-ray recording media to take the high-definition experience to a new level of performance."

According to the company, Accucore includes improved scratch resistance, a material design that prevents data and image corruption and deterioration and temperature durability. As media from competing manufacturers, the Sony discs support 2x recording speeds (72 Mb/s). It is unclear at this time, if the BD-RE format is compatible to BD-RW and will be able to played and recorded by all Blu-ray devices. Pricing for the media is in line with TDK's media: 25 GB BD-Rs will cost $20, the 50 GB version will carry a $48 price tag. Rewriteable media will be priced at $25 and $60, respectively.

Sony promises to "soon offer a wide range of Blu-ray disc devices, including a Blu-ray player, Vaio desktop and notebook computers, and an internal Blu-ray disc drive." However, for users who do not intend to use their Blu-ray media and PC drive in combination with a HD camcorder to record home videos in HD quality, the use of the technology may be restricted to backup for now: Only when the specification for AACS copy protection is completed and implemented - probably late this year - Blu-ray customers will be able to make licensed recordings of video content.

Just yesterday, Sony confirmed a delay of the first movies scheduled to be available on Blu-ray media. Instead of 23 May, the first wave of 16 titles is now planned to be available in retail on 20 June.