Garden City (NY) – Whether TDK is actually the first out of the gate with Blu-ray recordable discs available to the public, may be a matter of some debate – Sony is also claiming that honor – but today, TDK announced it’s ready to ship to US retailers what it’s describing as the first publicly available single-layer Blu-ray recordable discs. The news means that retailers are likely to be able to sell 25 GB recording media to consumers when the first components hit the shelves, perhaps in late May, most likely in June. However, the question of 50 GB dual-layer availability is a little less clear.
Unlike CD-Rs and DVD-Rs, at least for the time being, the first recordable BD-Rs and BD-RWs will be sold as singles. According to TDK, prices of blank 25 GB BD-R recordable discs will be $19.99 apiece, with blank 25 GB BD-RWs selling at $24.99. Sources with companies belonging to the Blu-ray Disc Association have told TG Daily that 25 GB storage will provide plenty of space for recording a single high-definition movie at 1080p (progressive) resolution. Once the complete specification for AACS copy protection is completed, and once the system for maintaining Internet connections with Blu-ray players has been launched – at this rate, probably some time next year – Blu-ray customers will be able to make licensed recordings of movies via on-demand download services.
Meanwhile, proponents of the competitor HD DVD format have pointed out to TG Daily that its dual-layer media, reportedly available in most parts of the country very soon, has a 30 GB storage capacity. TDK is saying its dual-layer 50 GB Blu-ray discs, to be priced at $47.99 for recordable and $59.99 for rewritable, will not be available until later this year. The reason, presumably, is that the first generation of Blu-ray recorders won’t support dual-layer just yet, and the company may simply be waiting for the components themselves to evolve.
The era of recordable high-definition video probably does not have “2006” associated with it. Toshiba’s first HD DVD players, while supporting the playback of recordable media, are not recorders in themselves; and even the first recordable HD DVD and Blu-ray components are awaiting the outcome of the dispute among members of the licensing body creating the AACS copy protection scheme, which both high-def formats will support. So rather than video, the first high-capacity media will probably be leveraged by PCs. Sony’s first BD-R drive was announced last month, the BWU-100A, is still expected to ship this month, and will apparently support dual-layer 50 GB media the moment it’s made available – like TDK, Sony is holding out. Sony’s prices for Blu-ray recordable media is equivalent to TDK’s, although Sony’s rewritable format, referred to as BD-RE rather than BD-RW, leaves some questions open as to cross-manufacturer compatibility.