Tokyo - Sony will begin sales of the first blue laser high-definition optical disc recorders based on the Blu-ray disc format in Japan starting next month, the company announced here.
The Blu-ray deck will incorporate a satellite tuner and will be capable of storing up to two hours of high-definition TV programming onto a single DVD-sized optical disc.
Sony said the deck would carry a suggested retail price of 450,000 yen ($3,800). In comparison, its multi-format standard definition red-laser DVD+RW/DVD-RW/-R recorder (RDR-GX7) will ship in the U.S. in June at an $800 suggested retail price.
The Japanese Blu-ray recorder will hit store shelves April 10. Sony has not announced plans for U.S. version of the recorder.
The wavelength of blue laser is shorter than conventional red lasers, enabling it to read and store more densely compacted data on a disc.
By launching the Blu-ray deck at this time, Sony will have a jump start on company's planning to bring HDTV optical discs to market in a variety of competing formats including Toshiba's previously announced Blue-laser technology and a red-laser-based HDTV disc being explored by Warner Studios and others.
Toshiba hopes to market its first Blue-laser recorder next year. That format will record up to 15-20GB of data per disc but is expected to be less expensive than rival Blu-ray systems.
Sony will also beat its partners in the nine-company Blu-ray Consortium. Other manufacturing members of the Blu-ray group include Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), Philips Electronics and Samsung Electronics.
Sony said it will market Blu-ray discs at 3,500 yen ($30) apiece for its deck on April 10.
Blu-ray discs hold up to 23GB of data, which is said to be enough for two hours of high-definition satellite-delivered programming.
Sony said its Blu-ray deck would be compatible with red-laser discs using the DVD video, DVD-R and DVD-RW formats. It will not play discs recorded in the standard definition DVD-RAM or DVD+RW formats.