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Hitachi and Blu-ray


CeBIT 2005 - And There's More

In my last report I mentioned that I’d spotted Blu-ray all over the show so I thought I’d provide some proof.

Some big news for Blue-ray was that Apple has come out in favour of Blu-ray rather rival format HD-DVD. This is undoubtedly a boost for Blu-ray as Apple’s brand name is strong even if its overall market share of desktop machines is still small.

Hitachi had a working device showcasing Blu-ray’s high-definition charms. I spoke to the Hitachi Group Manager for DVD and Storage Products, who told me that Hitachi had two working Blu-ray drives, both of which were at CeBIT, with one on show and another as back-up. If you’re wondering about why there were three Budda figurines on top? – well, so was I.

As I did with Sony, I inquired about any further information he could provide about release dates for Europe but he couldn’t provide anything concrete. He explained that the delay was due to the fact that Blu-ray is designed primarily with high-definition in mind and that it doesn’t exist in the mass market in Europe. And while it will launch on Sky in the UK next year, the problem is that Sky and other European broadcasters are terrified of users being able to record top quality digital copies of HDTV. Conversely in Japan broadcasters aren’t so anal, so with HDTV available Blu-ray had already found a niche.

I suggested that Blu-ray would succeed in Europe just to play back HD movies, just as DVD was successful for movies. Furthermore, while I could understand the reluctance to allow for digital recording, surely analogue recording over component out should be fine? Or just for recording many, many hours of standard definition TV? Either suggestion didn’t particularly convince him however.

Interestingly Hitachi’s Blu-ray’s disc was labelled as 23GB rather than the 25GB that other manufacturers claim. Basically, the discs are the same but Hitachi is referring to formatted capacity so is just being more honest – which is nice.

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