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BD eye: Sony plays its Blu-ray hand

It's Blu-ray mania as Sony announces a slew of (costly) products that it hopes will lure consumers and keep the threat of HD DVD at bay

Everybody and their grandmother knows Sony will be releasing Blu-ray disc players en masse by the end of the year, so Crave was a tad disappointed that it chose not to show off a single one at the CeBIT 2006 show in Hanover.

The mysterious absence of players has been short-lived, however, as Sony has revealed its Blu-ray Disc (BD) hand, less than two weeks after the show. Three products have been announced, including a standalone BD drive (the BWU-100A), an unnamed VAIO desktop PC with a recordable BD drive, and a living room BD player called the BDP-S1.

Crave can't wait for these products to hit the streets, but we reckon we'll be playing with HD DVD products before Sony has a chance to release its own -- Toshiba recently released a laptop with an HD DVD drive. Whether the timing of these releases will have any effect on deciding the victor in the forthcoming Blu-ray versus HD DVD war remains to be seen.

Some would argue Blu-ray is technically the better format, thanks to its higher capacity discs, but the same was said of the now defunct Betamax format, another Sony-backed technology technically superior to its main rival (VHS). But we all know how that one turned out.

The price of BD devices won't help the format one bit. The BDP-S1 should cost around £600, and the as yet un-specced VAIO desktop will cost around £1,300. Pricing for the BWU-100A will be announced nearer summertime, but it's anyone's guess what the BD-ready PlayStation 3 will cost.

We'll give all three products, plus the forthcoming Toshiba HD DVD devices, a thorough once-over the minute they're available. In the meantime, have a look at our in-depth guide to all things high definition. -RR