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Philips burner supports DVD, CD, Blu-ray

Optical disk drive comes as electronics giants jockey for support of their new DVD systems.

Philips Electronics on Monday unveiled an optical disk drive that can burn and play CDs and DVDs in three formats, including the new Blu-ray standard.

The drive, for use in computers, will be presented at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week and will be available in the second half of 2005. It comes as electronics giants jockey for support of their new DVD systems.

Many film studios had expected that Blu-ray wouldn't hit the market until 2006.

The Dutch company, together with a group of other powerful electronics makers including Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, is proposing the Blu-ray format, which can store up to 50GB of data on a disc.

This level of storage allows film publishers to put a full-length movie in the high-definition format on one disc.

Another group led by Toshiba and Sanyo proposes the HD (high-definition) DVD standard they have developed. That technology has less storage, but inventors say it's cheaper and will be ready soon.

Some film studios have already come out in support of specific formats. Disney and Sony Pictures back Blu-ray, while Warner-Bros, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures give support to HD DVD. Support by the studios, however, is not exclusive and the format battle is still seen as undecided.

The new Philips drive has three lasers, including Blu-ray's blue laser, which has a shorter wavelength than current red lasers, allowing for a thinner light beam that can read and write smaller bits of information on a disc.

Philips is the world's largest lighting maker, a top-three hospital equipment maker, Europe's biggest consumer electronics producer and the region's No. 3 in semiconductors.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.