IFA Berlin, Germany 2006: Show Floor Highlights Part 1

Blu-ray Disc Showcase

Blu-ray Disc Showcase

The Blu-ray Disc Association, a consortium of movie studios, tech manufacturers and so on, including CE players like Hitachi, Philips, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Dell, had a prominent booth in the HD Cinema hall, and they made an effort to help promote it with the help of their "Blu-ray Girl".

A wall lined up with Blu-ray recordable and re-recordable by the likes of Ricoh, Memorex, Fujifilm, Ritek, Verbatim, TDK and so on. Expect these brands of BD-R and BD-RE discs to invade our shores in abundance soon. In Europe, the 50GB BD-R (write-once) costs 35 Euro (about S$70) while the 50GB BD-RE (rewritable) costs 45 Euro (about S$90). TDK upped the ante further with the recent announcement that they�ve achieved a Blue-Laser Disc Technology supporting a 200GB capacity disc, which improves on their previous 100GB prototype disc technology.

Several Blu-ray Disc set-top players were shown at the booth. These include Sharp, Panasonic, Hitachi, LG, Samsung, Pioneer and Philips. While some Blu-ray players have already made their way to U.S. and Japan shores, several, like Samsung's BD-P1000 will finally make its way to European shores.

Besides set-top Blu-ray disc players, we also saw internal Blu-ray writers for the desktop and notebook PC by Panasonic (pictured), Sony, Hitachi and Philips. We recently reviewed LG's Blu-ray writer. Be prepared for a few more in the coming months.

While Sony did not participate in this year's IFA 2006, their products cannot be missed, especially when their flagship products like the Sony VAIO AR18GP notebook (which we've reviewed) that uses the Blu-ray drive�

�and of course, Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3, which was out of bounds but had several looping game demos. According to an earlier conference, a Sony PlayStation 3 executive confirmed that the console is targeted for launch by November in Japan.

A corner was dedicated to showcasing Dell's Blu-ray solutions in the form of the XPS M1710 notebook (using a Panasonic drive module) and XPS 700 desktop (using a Philips).

Music aficionados will love to know that DTS, Inc. would be releasing both Blu-ray and HD DVD movie discs with the new DTS-HD Master Audio format. DTS-HD Master Audio is part of the standards for both format and allows for a "bit-for-bit" identical reproduction of the original master soundtrack in up to 7.1 channels of audio. It is also backward compatible with all existing DTS surround sound equipment.