It looks as though the race to be first to deliver a blue-laser, high-definition DVD player to the market may be won by the Blu-ray camp. Toshiba had announced that it was going to ship a drive based on the competing HD DVD standard before the end of 2005, but was unable to make good on the promise. Now Pioneer has announced that it will ship its Blu-ray drive in the first quarter of 2006, and it may beat the Toshiba drive to market.
The Pioneer drive will read and write Blu-ray media, as well as read and write standard DVD+/-R/RW media. This should make it a versatile cross-over product that will appeal to both consumer electronics and computer storage applications.
The big question, however, is whether or not Pioneer will actually be able to make good on the promise. Delayed shipments are more common in the optical storage industry than hitting target dates, so I won’t be holding my breath. And until we have seen the prices for the drives and the media, it’s going to be impossible to make any judgment about bang for the buck. In spite of all that, it does appear that we’re nearing the day when we can discuss high-definition DVDs based on something more substantial than just speculation.