Tokyo - Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. will introduce a Blu-ray disk recorder in Japan on July 31, becoming that optical-disk format's second supplier, after Sony Corp. But in their rush to provide high-definition recording capabilities before the Blu-ray disk spec is completed, the suppliers are leaving format and system compatibility behind.
Matsushita's DMR-E700BD recorder will be 23.3- and 25-Gbyte single-layer disks and will be the first system to support a 50-Gbyte dual-layer recordable disk, the company said. One 50-Gbyte disk can hold approximately 4.5 hours of high-definition video footage at a 24-Mbit/second data rate, or as many as 63 hours in EP mode with picture quality similar to VHS.
"Recording capacity is an important factor for [high-definition DVD] recorders. Thus the Blu-ray disk format that allows longer recording time is advantageous," said Etsuji Shuda, director of the Home AV Business unit of Panasonic AVC Networks Co., a Matsushita company. Matsushita announced the dual-layer recording technology in October 2001, before the Blu-ray format's announcement in February 2002.
Others also have worked with dual-layer disks. Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. introduced a 8.5-Gbyte double-layer DVD+R recordable disk in May.
Dual-layer disks are considered difficult to manufacture. A Matsushita spokesman acknowledged that production of two-layer disks requires innovative technologies and a completely new production system but said the company can produce 20,000 disks per month.
Blu-ray proponents have defined the standard's recording format, which allows the use of 23.3-Gbyte, 25-Gbyte or 27-Gbyte disks, though it is possible for any of those disks to have two layers. Matsushita is starting with the 25-Gbyte disk, which will yield 50 Gbytes in the dual-layer version. Matsushita's recorder will also support the single-layer 23.3-Gbyte disk used by Sony. But the latter company's dual-layer version will be based on the 23.3-Gbyte disk. Neither Sony's nor Matsushita's recorders support the 27-Gbyte disk spec.
Blu-ray initiatives have defined version 0.9 of the physical specifications for the BD-ROM format, and work continues on the final application layer. The Blue-ray recorders now on the market do not support the BD-ROM disks.
Matsushita's DMR-E700BD comes with four built-in tuners to support terrestrial digital broadcasts, two satellite-based broadcast services and terrestrial analog broadcasts in Japan. The recorder's high price-it will sell for about $3,000 in Japan-is a factor in the company's decision to sell only to the home market for now. "We are still considering how to promote the BD recorder overseas," Shuda said.
Sony, which sells its recorder for about $4,000 in Japan, has similarly decided to market the unit only on its home turf for now.