Sanyo quietly joins Blu-ray Disc group

Sanyo, a backer of HD-DVD, has joined the Blu-ray Disc group but says its plans for HD-DVD consumer players are unchanged.

Sanyo Electric has joined the Blu-ray Disc Association, the standards-setting group behind the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format, but says its membership hasn't changed the company's plan to produce disc players based on the rival HD-DVD format.

Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD are both new optical disc formats that use blue lasers and can store several times more data than current DVDs. They are being positioned as replacements for DVD for high-definition content and the failure of their respective backers to come up with a compromise format means they'll likely be competing with each other in the market.

Sanyo is one of three big-name companies to have put its weight behind HD-DVD. The others are Toshiba and NEC and all three companies want to get hardware into shops in at least the North American market before the end of this year. The Blu-ray Disc group has a much larger number of backers, including Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) but isn't likely to get consumer movie players out until next year.

Sanyo joined the Blu-ray Disc Association because it's planning to produce components for both formats, said Ryan Watson, a spokesman for Osaka-based Sanyo. He said the company has been planning to produce optical pick-ups for both formats since it began researching the technology and that it still plans to produce consumer players based only on HD-DVD.

Sanyo joined the association on April 29 but no announcement was made of its membership, either by the company or the group, and it remained unlisted on the association's Web site as of Thursday afternoon.

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