TOKYO Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. will become the second Japanese manufacturer to introduce a Blu-ray disk recorder here on July 31.
Matsushita's model features support for dual-layer disks with 50 Gbyte capacity. The DMR-E700BD recorder will be able to record up to 4.5 hours of digital high-definition programs at 24 Mbits/s data or up to 63 hours of analog programs converted to digital in extended play mode using dual-layer disks.
The recorder is equipped with four built-in tuners for terrestrial digital broadcasting, satellite broadcasts and and terrestrial analog broadcasts. The tuners cover all Japanese broadcast media except cable TV.
Matsushita expects demand for recording will increase here by the start of the Athens Olympics in August. The company nevertheless remains hesitant about introducing Blu-ray disk recorders overseas since its unclear whether demand for recording HD broadcasts is as strong as in Japan.
The recorder will cost about $3,000 in Japan. The high price is another reason Matsushita is leery of overseas markets. "We are considering how to promote the recorder overseas, and have not yet nailed down the marketing plan," said Etsuji Shuda, director of the Home AV Business unit of Panasonic AVC Networks Co.
Blu-ray disk standards groups have completed a version 0.9 physical specifications for the BD-ROM format, and are negotiating with Hollywood on the final application layer. Some analysts think Matsushita will wait for completion of the BD-ROM format before introducing Blu-ray disk products overseas.
Along with dual-layer disks, the recorder supports single layer 25- and 23-Gbyte disks used in Sony's BD recorder. "The recording capacity is an important factor for recorders. Thus the BD format that allows longer recording time is advantageous [for HD DVDs]," said Shuda.
Rival groups have stressed that dual-layer disks are the weak link in the BD format because they are difficult to manufacture. Matsushita admitted that production of dual- layer disks requires innovative technologies and completely new production capabilities, but added that it has managed to produce 20,000 disks a month.