BenQ shows Blu-ray Disc drive prototype

BenQ is demonstrating a Blu-ray Disc drive at the Computex show in Taipei this week.

BenQ is demonstrating one of the few working Blu-ray Disc optical drive prototypes at Computex in Taipei this week.

Blu-ray Disc is one of two formats competing to replace DVD and become the optical disc media of choice for high-definition movies. A single-layer disc can store 25G bytes of data versus DVD's 4.7G bytes of storage. The extra capacity is needed because high-definition movies contain several times the amount of data that a standard definition movie contains.

The drive was developed with Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV as part of the Philips BenQ Digital Storage joint venture formed by the two companies in 2003, said Caroline Hsu, a specialist in BenQ's branding department, speaking at Computex.

A demonstration at the company's booth showed playback of a high-definition video stored on a Blu-ray Disc via the drive. BenQ couldn't provide an estimate of when the drive will be launched or its likely price.

Despite Blu-ray Disc's expected commercial launch being less than a year away, hardware based on the standard is not particularly visible at Computex. That could be because many of the companies currently working on prototype drives are the big-name Japanese, European and American companies leading the Blu-ray Disc Association and not the relatively anonymous Taiwanese companies that dominate the optical disc market.

Discs bearing the Blu-ray Disc logo and that of the rival HD-DVD format are on display at the show, however, it's impossible to verify if these are true prototypes or simply mock-ups of discs.

On the software side, Germany's Nero is demonstrating a version of its Nero disc burning software with support for Blu-ray Disc. The demonstration, which is taking place off the show floor, is being done with a Pioneer Blu-ray Disc drive and a PC running Windows.

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