Sony makes progress towards smaller Blu-ray/DVD players

Sony and blue-laser diode maker Nichia have developed a component that they say is vital to realizing support for Blu-ray Disc and DVD discs in portable devices, they announced on Tuesday.

The component, an integrated dual-wavelength laser coupler, contains the blue and red lasers required for support of the two disc formats as well as the associated lenses and optical receivers, said Harumi Asai, a spokeswoman for Sony.

The companies had previously announced development of a device that integrated the lasers and lenses together but required separate optical receivers. While that device is suitable for use in desktop and living-room optical-disc players, further integration and miniaturization is required before drives can be made that are small enough for use in notebook computers or portable disc players, she said.

The device announced Tuesday marks one step towards this goal: the integration of the different pieces into a single unit. Getting the device smaller will be a task handled by the two companies between now and the end of 2005, when they are targeting the start of commercial production.

Blu-ray Disc is one of two standards based on blue lasers that are being positioned as a replacement for DVDs for high-definition video content. Three machines aimed at home recording of high-definition TV have been commercially announced in Japan but devices are yet to appear in other markets.

The format's 14 backers are Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Mitsubishi Electric, Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, Sony, TDK , Thomson Multimedia and Victor Co. of Japan (JVC).

Its main competitor is HD-DVD (High Definition/High Density-DVD), which was developed largely by NEC and Toshiba with the support of disc-maker Memory-Tech and the backing of the DVD Forum.

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