Sony will begin selling its first personal computers with Blu-ray Disc drives in Japan in June, the company said Tuesday.
Both laptop and desktop computers will be available.
The Vaio VGN-AR70B laptop has a 17-inch widescreen liquid crystal display (LCD) panel with 1,920-by-1,080-pixels resolution, so it can show high-definition content at full quality. The Vaio VGN-RC729DP desktop includes a digital TV tuner and will be sold with or without a 19-inch LCD monitor.
The drives in both computers can read and write to Blu-ray Discs. A single-layer Blu-ray Disc can store 25GB of data, or about five times that of today’s DVDs, and can be used to store both computer files and video. In Japan, Sony is bundling software with the machines that can record digital HDTV broadcasts to the hard disk and later copy that content across to a Blu-ray Disc.
The computers can also import video from external sources such as Sony’s high-definition camcorder. Once in the PC, the video can be edited and burned to a disc. This fills an important gap in Sony’s high-definition offerings, since people using the camcorder today have difficulty exporting the HD video out of the PC in a useful format.
There’s also a high-definition multimedia interface connector on the laptop for sending the video signal to an HD television.
The laptop is based on an Intel Core Duo T2500 (2GHz) processor and has 200GB of storage. The desktop uses a Pentium D (3.2GHz) processor and has 500GB of storage.
The laptop will cost about 400,000 yen (US$3,639) and go on sale in Japan on June 24. The desktop version will cost about 440,000 yen with monitor or about 380,000 yen without, and go on sale June 17. The laptop will be available in the United States in the “summer” this year and cost around US$3,500, Sony’s U.S. unit said. Details on other overseas launch plans were not immediately available.
The laptop is expected to be the first portable computer from any manufacturer to go on sale with a Blu-ray Disc drive, although Toshiba is about to put on sale a laptop with a drive for the rival HD DVD format. In the desktop market, Fujitsu is planning to sell a desktop with a Blue-ray drive in June.
Sony is a major backer of the Blu-ray Disc format for high-definition movies and content. The format is battling HD DVD to become the de facto replacement for DVDs for high-definition content. In terms of data storage, Blu-ray Disc has the advantage with its 25GB single-layer disc comparing favorably with 15GB HD DVD-R discs or 20GB HD DVD-R discs.
Sony will start selling blank Blu-ray Disc media in Japan in mid-June to coincide with the launch of the two computers. A 25GB BD-R write-once disc will cost 1,900 yen, and a similar-capacity BD-RW rewritable disc will cost 2,700 yen.
-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
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