Panasonic, which announced its Blu-Ray plans earlier this year, published details of its LF-MB121JD Blu-Ray drive on its web site in Japan. Although a final price of the drive hasn't been announced, the company said that a consumer player would cost less than $1,500.
Panasonic's drive will read and write standard write-once BD discs as well as the rewriteable BDE standard, both in single-layer and dual-layer formats. It will also read standard DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, and write and rewrite standard DVD+/-RW formats, as well as standard CD-ROM discs.
I/O Data, on the other hand, has published pricing details on the USB-only external BRD-UM2 drive and the internal ATAPI-based BRD-AM2B drives, which will cost 116,000 yen (about $985) and 105,000 yen (about $893), respectively.
Both of the I/O Data drives appear to be identical, compatibility-wise, with the Panasonic offering; BD and BDE discs will be written at 2X speeds. However, some of the performance has apparently been sacrificed, as the I/O Data drives write DVD+R and DVD-R data at x8 speeds DVD+RW at x8 speeds, DVD-RW at x6 speeds, and DVD-RAM at x5 speeds. Standard DVD-ROM discs are read only at x8 speeds.
According to Matsushita, the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats will never be reconciled, potentially leaving consumers with incompatible players. Sonic Solutions, a DVD software company, formed the High Definition Authoring Alliance in July 2005, to help unify the "viewing experience," if not the standards themselves, teaming with Laser Pacific, Deluxe and Technicolor Creative, among others.
Friday, Sonic said that it had formed an advisory group, adding PC and consumer-electronics companies to the mix. The advisory group will "test and validate user interactions," using the two formats, Sonic said.