Sony to launch first Blu-ray notebook

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Sony said it would offer the world's first notebook PC equipped with a next-generation Blu-ray optical disk drive in Japan in June, a month behind Toshiba's launch last week of laptop PCs with a rival drive.

Sony said it would offer the world's first notebook PC equipped with a next-generation Blu-ray optical disk drive in Japan in June, a month behind Toshiba's launch last week of laptop PCs with a rival drive.

Sony also said it would unveil in June a handheld PC that uses NAND flash memory instead of a hard disk drive as its storage, in a potential boost to NAND flash makers such as Samsung Electronics and Toshiba.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate expects its Vaio notebook PC with a Blu-ray drive to retail for about 400,000 yen ($3,600), in line with the price tag for Toshiba's competing notebook PCs, which are equipped with an HD DVD drive.

"The PC market will be increasingly polarised, with customers focusing on such basic functions as the Internet and e-mail on one end, and users that seek added value on the other," Yoshihisa Ishida, head of Sony's PC division, told a news conference.

"The latter, of course, is where Vaio is headed."

Sony's Blu-ray technology competes with the HD DVD format, which is supported by Toshiba, for pole position in the multibillion-dollar markets for high-definition optical disk players and disk drives.

At the core of both formats are blue lasers, which have a shorter wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD equipment, enabling discs to store data at the higher densities needed for high-definition movies and TV.

Their failure to settle on a unified format has paved the way for a costly battle similar to the VHS-Betamax war that caused widespread customer confusion in the late 1970s through mid-1980s.

Since Sony holds more patents in Blu-ray technology than in the current generation of DVD format, a victory over HD DVD would boost Sony's bottom line substantially.

Besides the notebook model, Sony will also sell a Blu-ray equipped desktop PC with display for about 440,000 yen in Japan.
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