Samsung sent out an announcement yesterday stating that the hardware for their Blu-ray high-definition DVD drives is ready for production, but they’re waiting to complete “compatibility testing.” They assert that the test discs will be available “in late April“, and that they will launch the drive in the United States on June 25, 2006. (This was pushed back from the May 23 launch date that had been announced previously.) The BD-P1000 will have HDMI output that will support 1080p content, and will upconvert standard DVD content to 1080p over HDMI. The anticipated street price will be $999.
This is moderately good news for the Blu-ray camp, which could use some good news. As I understand the problem, not all the specifications for the format have been worked out, which makes “compatibility testing” problematic. Until the details are finalized for the copy protection features required for “digital rights management” you can’t know what is compatible. And apparently that is what is holding up the Blu-ray launches.
So Samsung is talking bravely about a hard date for release in this country. HD DVD already has a price advantage — Toshiba has announced a $500 model — but if Samsung can keep to this launch schedule, then at least Blu-ray won’t give up too much of a head start to the rival format.