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Samsung to launch Blu-ray Disc player in April

Closer to HD-DVD launch than anticipated

Samsung will get a jump on its competitors by launching a Blu-ray Disc player in April this year, it said yesterday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Most other Blu-ray Disc supporters that have talked about shipping dates have set mid-2006 targets, so the Samsung machine currently stands to be first to market. Toshiba is planning to launch two players that support HD-DVD, the competing format to Blu-ray Disc, in March this year.

The BD-P1000 player will cost $1,000 (about £570) and will be able to output high-definition video on an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) at 720p and 1,080i (720 lines progressive scanning and 1,080 lines interlaced scanning) resolutions. That's the same as the Toshiba players and means that both first-generation high-definition optical disc players won't be able to output a signal at 1,080p, which is considered the best of several high-definition picture standards.

Samsung didn't implement 1,080p support in the interest of speeding up development.

"It allows us to get to market quicker, and so as we look at future models we'll look at 1080p output," said Jim Sanduski, senior vice-president of marketing for Samsung's digital and audio products group, speaking to reporters at CES.

For the full 1,080p picture, consumers will have to wait until the middle of the year for Pioneer to launch a Blu-ray Disc player. It will cost $1,800 (£1,025), the company said on Wednesday.

Samsung's April launch could be delayed if BD Java, the standard for interactive features on Blu-ray Discs, isn't completed in time.

"BD Java is one thing that is still being worked out. The timetable, as I understand it, is late March," said Sanduski. "So that's why [our timetable is] end of April. We think we can do it."

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