January 12, 2004 5:27 PM PST

HP, Dell back Blu-ray technology

PC giants Hewlett-Packard and Dell have lined up behind a blue-laser optical disc technology backed by Sony and others, the latest development in a simmering DVD format battle.

Last week, HP and Dell said they are supporting the "Blu-ray Disc" format, which uses blue laser light to squeeze more than four hours of high definition video onto a single-sided disc.

"HP believes Blu-ray Disc is the most consumer-friendly technology choice for the next generation of removable storage," John Romano, HP senior vice president, said in a statement.

Blue-laser drives are considered a successor to today's red-laser DVD drives. Blu-ray Disc technology allows for up to 27GB of storage on a single-sided disc, compared with 4.7GB for current DVDs.

Additionally, Blu-ray Disc backers are working on a dual-layer disc that can hold about 50GB of data.

A new DVD format is needed because of the emergence of high definition television (HDTV) displays, which offer greater picture quality than current televisions, according to Mike Fidler, senior vice president of Sony of America.

But as with recordable DVDs, a format war is brewing over which technology will become the industry standard.

NEC and Toshiba have developed a blue-laser format called HD-DVD. In November, the steering committee of the DVD Forum industry group approved a preliminary version of the HD-DVD specification for read-only discs.

But the technology from NEC and Toshiba faces competition from the Blu-ray Disc format, which is promoted by a group of 10 consumer electronics company "founders," including Sony, Hitachi, Philips and Samsung.

Sony's Fidler said that the support of Dell and HP should help to boost Blu-ray's chances of becoming the dominant DVD rewritable and recordable format.

"It's important to have the IT world engaged in the development of Blu-ray," said Fidler. "They have the power to drive adoption from a marketplace standpoint."

The support of Dell and HP helped to establish the DVD+RW format as a strong competitor to the DVD-RW, DVD-R and DVD-RAM formats.

Fidler added that products based on the Blu-ray Disc format are not likely to be available in the United States until late 2005.

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Blu-ray or HD DVD?
I have not seen in any review information related to compatability with present DVD formats. Will our old DVD collections become obsolete?
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