I’ll get the HD DVD tidbit out of the way first. Yesterday I posted about the new ‘low-cost’ HD DVD player coming from Venturer, the SHD7000. At the time the price was unknown, but Video Business is reporting that the price will be $199. So – not a big deal. I fully expect the Toshiba HD-A3 to be $199.99 when it launches, and be a better player. There is a hidden bit of news here though – Venturer just OEMs from a Chinese manufacturer. So the real news is that there is an OEM out there making a cheap player that 2nd and 3rd tier brands can slap their name on.
And in other news, the IFA Consumer Electronics Tradeshow, the largest consumer electronics tradeshow in the world (yes, bigger than CES – the largest show in the US), kicks off August 31st – Friday – and runs through September 5th. And news is already starting to pile up with pre-show announcements. The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) will be a major force at IFA. Expect a lot of announcements – on top of those below. CDRinfo.com has an article on the BDA at the show.
PC maker Acer has joined the BDA. That means Acer will now have a hand in shaping the BD specs. And they plan to add BD players and burners to their desktop and laptop PCs. Of course, Acer has also just acquired Gateway as well.
The China Hualu Group Co. has also joined the BDA. They’re a Chinese manufacturer of DVD players and recorders, so this likely signals an intent to product BD players, and perhaps recorders. They have a booth at the show, so there may be more news forthcoming as to their plans.
Studio Canal, which had formerly released only HD DVD, has jumped up on the fence with the announcement of their first Blu-ray release a three film box-set of “Les Bronzes”.
Singulus Technologies, a Blu-ray production equipment vendor, has announced two new orders for BD production lines – one for Asia and one for Europe. The lines will initially be for BD25, but can easily be upgraded to BD50.
BenQ has announced a $199 BD-ROM PC drive, the BR1000. This is strictly a reader, it doesn’t write any optical media. They’ve also announced the $599 BR1001 which will burn CD, DVD, and BD media. Both will be available in September.
And there have been a number of player announcements.
Sony announced the BDP-S500, which seems to be a higher-end version of the BDP-S300. It has support for 1080p24/60, 7.1 audio output, and it can internally decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, as well as passing both as a bitstream to a compatible receiver over HDMI 1.3. As part of the announcement Sony said that a copy of the Spider-man Trilogy (on Blu-ray, of course) would be bundled with the BDP-S300 and BDP-S500. But it isn’t clear yet if that is just for Europe or if the US is included as well.
Samsung has provided more details on their BD-P1400 and BD-P2400 BD players, as well as their dual-format BD-UP5000. The BD-P1400 supports 1080p24/60, 5.1 audio output, and supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD. It has HDMI 1.3 as well as an Ethernet port, and it will be available in September. The BD-P2400 adds 7.1 audio output and an HQV processor to those specs, and will be out in October. The BD-UP5000 is basically identical to the BD-P2400, with the addition of HD DVD support, and it will also be available in October.
Philips announced the BDP-7100. It has support for 1080p24/60, and has Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD internal decoding. It will be available soon across Europe.
Sharp has announced another Blu-ray player, the Sharp Aquos BD-HP205. Full specs should be announced during the show, and Sharp has stated that they would one day be the largest manufacturer of Blu-ray players. Bold words, I hope they back that up with products – they’ve announced BD players in the past only to cancel them.
Loewe announced a very slick looking player, the Blutech Vision. It is only 6cm tall, and it has support for 1080p24, and decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD.
And last, but not least, Daewoo has jumped into Blu-ray – impressively. They’ve unveiled a player which leapfrogs over the Blu-ray Profile 1.1 right to Profile 2.0 – aka BD Live. It has a blue mirrored front panel which looks pretty good, and it will reportedly play all recordable/rewritable BD, DVD, and CD formats and also supports DivX, as well as upscaling DVDs and JPEG images. And it has a USB port on the front for playing downloaded video and viewing photos. It sounds like quite a nice player – and it is rumored to not be that expensive, but we’ll see.