Verbatim today announced the immediate availability of blank write-once (BD-R) and re-writeable (BD-RE) Blu-ray media, joining TDK and Sony as the three manufacturers shipping blank Blu-ray discs to Australia at this point in time. In contrast, HD DVD blanks are still yet to arrive.
The discs are available in "single pack jewel cases", with Verbatim selling 25GB BD-R and BD-RE versions for AU$34.95 and AU$41.95 respectively. Sony's BD-R/BD-RE media goes for AU$34.95/$42.95, while TDK is currently only marketing BD-RE blanks, for AU$42.95 each.
Down the line, TDK will have BD-R media available from September for AU$32.95, while Verbatim promises that its 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray discs will be available "in the near future".
According to Matt Codrington, product marketing manager for Toshiba Australia, the release of HD DVD blank media is still "around six months off", due to the fact that drives capable of writing to HD DVD discs are yet to arrive.
Globally, Toshiba has released its first HD DVD recorder in Japan, -- the RD-A1 -- but Codrington couldn't confirm whether or not that specific drive would be available in Australia.
In general reference to other HD DVD recorders from Toshiba and its competitors, Codrington says that drives will be available "from the end of Q4  and start of Q1 ". He cites the need to convert devices from NTSC to the PAL format used in Australia as the main factor halting progress.
In the Blu-ray camp there's only one device capable of writing to BD discs currently available, the Sony VAIO VGN-AR18GP.
The availability of blank media is undoubtedly of great importance to next-gen DVD early adopters, as in the absence of commercial movie content (for the time being, at least), the only real selling point for both formats is the ability to store 5-10 times as much content as a regular DVD. For example, those shooting home movies in HD can now burn and distribute them at maximum resolution.