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Thu, Jul 01, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Matshushita gains edge with DVD recorder

REUTERS , TOKYO

A woman shows Matsushita 50GB capacity blue-ray disc recorder ``Diga DMR-E700BD'' and its single-side dual-layer DVD disc which enables to record 4.5 hours high-resolution digital video images or up to 63 hours analogue programming in Tokyo yesterday. Matsushita will put it on the market July 31 with an estimated price of ?300,000.

PHOTO: AFP

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, maker of Panasonic brand products, yesterday unveiled a DVD recorder based on Blu-ray technology which can read and store data at the much higher densities needed for recording digital TV programs.

The move gives it an edge in the battle against a rival technology supported by fellow Japanese electronics makers NEC Corp and Toshiba Corp.

The ability to record high-definition TV programs is becoming important as countries around the world are set to shift to digital from analog programming.

Recordable DVD discs compatible with Matsushita's new recorder have a capacity of 25 or 50 gigabytes, compared with current 4.7 gigabyte discs. A 50-gigabyte disc can hold 4.5 hours of digital programming at the highest quality or 63 hours of analog programming.

Matsushita is a member of a consortium that backs Blu-ray, which competes with another blue laser-based technology known as HD DVD. It is the second firm to launch a Blu-ray DVD recorder after Sony Corp did so last year.

NEC and Toshiba, which back HD-DVD, have no plans to launch blue laser DVD recorders until next year. Blue light, with a shorter wavelength than the red laser used in conventional DVD recorders, can read and store data at the higher densities needed for high-definition recordings.

Matsushita said the device is expected to be priced at about ?300,000 (US$2,770) and 50 gigabyte discs at about ?7,500 each. The recorder is equipped with a built-in tuner for digital terrestrial and satellite broadcasting, as well as terrestrial analog broadcasting.

It will be introduced in the Japanese market on July 31 in time for the Aug. 13 start of the Olympics in Greece, which is expected to drive demand for digital televisions and DVD recorders. Matsushita said it has no current plans to sell the DVD recorder overseas.

Japan already offers terrestrial digital TV programming in its largest cities, while US TV stations are required by law to switch to digital signals by the end of 2006, when 85 percent of American homes will be able to receive the higher-quality, crisper signals.

Other companies that support Blu-ray include Samsung Electronics Co, Philips Electronics and Dell.

In the previous battle over home-use recording technology, Matsushita and Sony, the world's top two consumer electronics makers, played their video cassette format off against each other, with Matsushita's VHS triumphing over Sony's Betamax.

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