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Blu-ray Disc player, movies coming on 23 May

But no word on UK launch – yet

The Blu-ray Disc high-definition optical format will launch in the US on 23 May, when the first player and movies will become available, backers of the format said yesterday.

Samsung will be first out of the gate with a Blu-ray player. Its BD-P1000, which was first shown at the International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas last month, will be available in the US from 23 May, the company said in a statement.

No price for the player was given. At CES Samsung said it plans to sell the machine for around $1,000 (about £575), but the original launch date was slated for April.

The launch of players for Blu-ray and the competing HD-DVD format have been delayed by protracted talks regarding the content protection system that is common to both formats. While discussions have yet to be completed, an interim agreement was finalised last week that allows companies to begin production of hardware.

Following the Samsung launch, similar machines from Sony and Pioneer will be released, and Sony will also begin selling a Vaio computer with a Blu-ray Disc drive, the companies said. No detailed launch plans were disclosed.

Software for the new player will be released on 23 May by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Lionsgate Films.

Details have emerged of the first Sony titles to be released: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight's Tale, The Last Waltz, Resident Evil Apocalypse and XXX. More will follow on 13 June, including Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop, Stealth, Species, SWAT and Terminator. The first new release movie to hit Blu-ray Disc will be Underworld Evolution, which will launch in "early summer", on the same day as its DVD release.

On 23 May Lionsgate will release Crash, Lord of War, The Punisher, Saw and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The first two titles will cost $40 (£23); the latter three will cost $30 (£17), the firm said in a statement. An additional five titles will be launched in June and July: Reservoir Dogs, Total Recall, Stargate, Frank Herbert's Dune and The Devil's Rejects.

The first player for the HD-DVD format is due to be launched by Toshiba in March in the US. As yet there is still no word on when these products will be available in the UK.


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