Sharp Unveils First Blu-ray Disc Recorder
Sharp will put its first Blu-ray Disc recorder on sale in Japan in December, the company says.
The BD-HD100 will be the third recorder on the market to support the Blu-ray Disc format, which is one of two blue-laser based formats fighting to become the de-facto optical disc standard for high-definition video content. The first recorder was put on sale in April 2003 by Sony, while Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) began selling a model in July.
Machines supporting the other format, HD-DVD, are not due on sale until next year.
The Sharp player offers several functions not available on the two current Blu-ray Disc machines including a hard drive, twin optical drives, and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output, says Miyuki Nakayama, a spokesperson for the Osaka company.
The hard drive has a capacity of 160GB and can be used to record about 19 hours of high-definition programming. This is more than six times the amount of HDTV that can be stored on a single-layer Blu-ray Disc, therefore making it more convenient for day-to-day recording.
In one of its other unique features, Sharp has taken a current problem with Blu-ray Disc technology and turned it into a feature. The machine has twin slots on the front, one for Blu-ray Discs and one for DVDs. This allows copying of content, as long as it's not copy-protected, between a DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and the hard drive, says Nakayama.
While this multi-way copying is new, twin drives are not. Matsushita's recorder also has two optical drives inside it but they are hidden away behind a single slot. A complex loader mechanism sends discs to the appropriate drive and only allows one disc to be loaded at one time.
The arrangement is one of necessity because Blu-ray Disc and DVD are based on different color lasers, and drive heads that incorporate lasers for each format are yet to be commercialized. Sharp and Matsushita get around this issue by using two drives, while Sony uses a single drive with two read-heads.
The HDMI output jack on the back supplies an uncompressed digital video and audio signal in a single cable and is being promoted as an interconnection standard for HDTV-compliant devices.
The machine can record onto rewritable single-layer BD-RE discs, which have a capacity of 25GB, but won't record onto or playback dual-layer 50GB discs. It can also playback DVD-Video, DVD+/-R, DVD+/-RW, DVD-RAM, and several flavors of CD.
Sharp plans to put the recorder on sale in Japan on December 9 at a price of around $3050, says Nakayama. That's a little more expensive than the Panasonic machine that went on sale earlier this year, although that machine doesn't feature a hard drive recording function.
Production has been set at 3000 units per month, says Sharp.
Sharp first showed the player at the Ceatec exhibition in Japan in early October this year when it was labeled as a prototype device.