Fujitsu FMV home theater PCs to include Blu-ray

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Fujitsu FMV home theater PCs to include Blu-ray

Tokyo (Japan) – What Reuters took away from this morning’s press release from Fujitsu is that it will be the first PC manufacturer to include Blu-ray Disc recorders in its media center PCs, when its FMV-Deskpower line goes on sale in Japan this Friday. What the press service missed is the real story: that a two-year-old high-definition recording system will, at long last, include its most obvious missing ingredient: a medium with enough capacity for the job.

Since Fujitsu introduced its FMV series of media center PCs to the Japanese market in April of 2004, the company has been working toward a goal of producing an all-in-one, high-definition, large-screen, surround-sound stereo component that completely doubles as a personal computer, while at the same time serving as the home’s HDTV recorder. In essence, Fujitsu’s dream has been the nightmare of the movie studios: a real PC with a true home theater display, and zero downconversion of resolution. Along the way to that goal, Fujitsu earned a “Best in Show” award at CES 2004.

Fujitsu’s ‘compact’ FMV Deskpower LX series. (Courtesy Fujitsu Ltd.)

Up until now, the chief impediment to that goal has not been the $5000 price tag, which is actually no problem at all to FMV’s high-class target market: affluent, and perhaps single, young executives, who likely live in cramped apartments in sprawling metropolitan areas. The FMV’s problem has been the recording media itself – something which consumers in this market don’t have the patience to trifle with, and the electronics press has spent too little time with to have actually discovered for itself. An FMV insists on not downgrading the content of video – a fact which spectators ogling its integrated LCD displays, as wide as 37″ diagonal, generally supplied by Sharp Aquos – except for the smaller displays in its product line. So even a top-of-the-line FMV model has been constrained by its on-board DVD-RAM drive. While its 4.7 GB is the highest available red-laser capacity available, a DVD-RAM disc might not be capable of holding an entire episode of a show, let alone an entire movie, with no downconversion.

So Fujitsu’s announcement today is meant to fill a long-standing gap in the company’s highest class components. Desktop FMVs will stay true to form, with all nine desktop models (ranging from 17″ to 37″ displays) opting for the highest capacity possible: Blu-ray’s dual-layer 50 GB mode, even the discs for which won’t be made available until later this year. Meanwhile, a revamped FMV-Biblio product line will feature Core Duo processors, HD DVD-ROM drives, and the company’s new touch-sensitive touch pad, which doubles as a digitizer, complete with pen. Fujitsu did not announce availability to the US market today, although historically, some desktop models have been rebranded as Deskpower PCs, and some prototype FMV-Biblios may have been spotted at CES 2006 last January, under the LifeBook brand.

For the 37″ FMV, Fujitsu promises full 1080p resolution for recording and playback of video from all available sources. From the English translations of this morning’s Japanese press releases, we can gather that this includes HDTV broadcasts at both 720 and 1080 vertical lines, from both analog and digital sources. Also built-in are “titanium diaphragm transonic” stereo speakers (which, if it uses the existing cabinet, should contain a built-in subwoofer), a silent cooling system that registers under 30 decibels during DVD playback, 1000BASE-T broadband networking, and Intel Pentium 4 processor with hyperthreading (precise model number not listed).

For those of you keeping score at home, all new FMV models will reportedly bear the “Windows Vista Capable” logo.