Panasonic to unveil thinnest Blu-ray Disc drive at CES

Panasonic is scheduled to unveil the laptop drive Jan. 6

Panasonic said today that it has developed a Blu-ray disc drive for laptop computers and plans to unveil it at January's Consumer Electronics Show.

The Panasonic Blu-ray Disc drive

The Panasonic Blu-ray Disc drive The drive is 9.5mm high, which is a standard height for many slim-line laptop optical disc drives. Squeezed down to this height, the drive should be easier for laptop makers to fit into their standard machines.

Panasonic has already begun offering samples of the drives to laptop makers with the hope that the companies will use it in new PCs.

The drive supports 2X writing to single-layer BD-R (write-once) and BR-RE (rewritable) discs and 1X writing to dual-layer discs. Reading of both Blu-ray formats is at 2X. Additionally, the drive can read BD-ROM discs, read and write to DVD-RAM, DVD-/+R, DVD-/+RW, CD-R/RW discs and read both DVD-ROM and CD-ROM. Panasonic didn't disclose a price for the drive.

Blu-ray is competing with the High-Definition DVD format to become the de facto replacement for DVD. In the video market, both offer a high-definition picture and audio quality well above that of DVD. But most consumers are staying away from both formats until a clear winner emerges. In the PC market, both formats remain relatively unused thanks to the high cost of drives and the plummeting cost of hard disk drive storage.

Blu-ray has the advantage in terms of capacity. A single-layer BD-R disc can accommodate 25GB of data while a single-layer HD DVD-R disc can hold 15GB. But capacity isn't the only factor to consider. Blu-ray discs are more expensive than HD DVD discs.

Panasonic is scheduled to hold a news conference in Las Vegas on Jan. 6 at the Consumer Electronics Show, where the drive is expected to be unveiled.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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