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Pioneer to launch Blu-ray Disc drive in January

Will be shown off at CES

Pioneer plans to unveil its first Blu-ray Disc format optical disc drive for personal computers at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it said yesterday. The drive will go on sale in Japan at the end of January pending the completion of two licensing issues, the company said.

The BDR-101A drive is compatible with non-cartridge single-layer recordable BD-R and rewritable BD-RW discs and single and dual-layer read-only BD-ROM discs, the company said. It is also compatible with a wide range of DVD-based media and can write DVD-R and DVD-RW discs.

Pioneer initially plans to offer it direct to Japanese PC makers for inclusion in their desktop computers and systems and will later expand sales to other countries, said Akira Muneto, a spokesman for Pioneer in Tokyo.

The drive will have an ATAPI interface that delivers a data transfer rate of 33MBps, said Muneto. It's a standard "half-height" size and measures 14.8x42x198mm (wxhxd) and weighs 1.1kg.

The company did not specify a price for the drive or any plans for sales of the drive direct to consumers.

Pioneer's drive is the first announcement of a shipping date from any optical disc drive maker although its January schedule may be derailed by a delay in licensing of the content management system or Blu-ray Disc logo, it said.

The inability of the companies behind the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) content management system to complete their work has already caused Toshiba to put launch plans for its HD-DVD player on hold. AACS is made up of a number of companies from the electronics and content industries. The group's founders include IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Matsushita, Sony, Toshiba, Walt Disney and Warner Bros.

The group has declined several requests for comment or interview regarding when the first version of its format will be completed.

CES runs in Las Vegas from 5 to 8 January.


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