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CES 2006 report

Welcome to our Blu-ray and HD-DVD coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2006, the world's largest technology tradeshow, which was held from January 5-8, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.

Welcome to CES 2006 held at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) from January 5-8, 2006 Over 150,000 people visited CES 2006 Over 2,500 exhibitors
were at the show

Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA)

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) as usual had a joint booth where member companies displayed their upcoming Blu-ray players, recorders, writers, drives and media. The biggest news from the Blu-ray side was of course that seven out of the eight major movie studios announced movie titles for the launch, including Disney, Fox, Paramount, Warner, Sony, MGM and Lions Gate. The BDA also announced that the Blu-ray Disc format specification has been completed and that licensing is ready to begin. The few things that remain to be resolved before launch are primarily related to the AACS copy-protection system and include whether to allow HD analog output for older HDTVs, rules for managed copies, and licensing terms.

Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) booth at CES

BDA presentation about Blu-ray Disc BDA supporting
BD media by Cinram, Fujifilm, Maxell, JVC, LG, Memorex, Optodisc,
Panasonic, Philips, Ricoh, Ritek, Sony, TDK, Technicolor, Verbatim
hybrid media
Blu-ray movies were on display everywhere
to showcase the support of Hollywood
"Batman Begins" and
"Chicken Little"
"Fantastic Four" in
1080p with HD Sound
TDK displaying their
prototype 100GB disc
HP's media center PC
with a Blu-ray drive
Broadcom's BD reference
design to test their chips
"The Matrix"


Sony had aquired the central stand (12,000 sq ft) to make a big splash at CES and showcase their latest products. They showed off a wide range of Blu-ray related products, including a BD player, BD recorder, multiple BD/DVD/CD writers, a VAIO desktop computer with Blu-ray and even a conceptual VAIO Digital Living System featuring a 200 disc changer with Blu-ray. The BD player (BDP-S1), which supports 1080p output via HDMI as well as upconversion of DVDs to 1080i/1080p, is scheduled for US release early this summer. The VAIO RC desktop computer will be released early summer as well, while the internal and external BD/DVD/CD writers will be released later this year. According to a Sony representative we talked to the new BD recorder doesn't have a release date yet, but he confirmed that it will play Blu-ray movies.

Sony's exhibition

Sony's BD player (BDP-S1) with 1080p support

VAIO XL1 with Blu-ray and 200 disc changer Sony's new BD recorder technical concept demo

Sony's external
BD/DVD/CD writer
Sony's internal
BD/DVD/CD writer
VAIO RC desktop computer with Blu-ray drive
running Ulead BD DiscRecorder 2.5
Sony showing the movie
"Bewitched" in HD
Movies, movies and more movies...

PlayStation 3

Sony also showed off their PlayStation 3 and various games. Unfortunately they didn't show anything new, only the same games we've already seen at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and TGS (Tokyo Game Show). There were a lot of great looking games, but the game that we thought looked most impressive was Metal Gear Solid 4.

"Formula 1"

"Metal Gear Solid 4"

PlayStation 3 BD player demo

PlayStation 3 conceptual design

PS3 from the side

PS3 from the back

Panasonic (Matsushita)

Panasonic displayed a wide range of products including a BD player, BD recorder and multiple BD/DVD/CD writers for notebooks and desktops. According to a Panasonic representative at the show they haven't decided on a price for the player yet, but it should be available in the US this summer. Panasonic also announced that they will begin licensing their BD-J middleware to other manufacturers, which will enable them to jump start development of BD players.

Panasonic's exhibition Panasonic demonstrating interactive features
of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"
Panasonic's slim BD/DVD/CD writer
Panasonic's DIGA-brand BD player with 1080p support Panasonic's BD player
and BD recorder


Philips was showcasing their BD player (BDP9000), which also supports playback of DVDs and CDs. The player is scheduled for the 2nd half of 2006 and will be competitively priced according to the Philips representative. Philips also displayed their BD recorder (IPS01) and BD triple writer (SPD7000). The BD triple writer which reads and writes BD/DVD/CD is scheduled to be released before the summer and will cost about $500.

Philips' exhibition

Philips' Cineos-brand
BD player (BDP9000)
Philips' BD triple writer (SPD7000)
The movie "Hitch" in HD

Philips' prototype BD recorder (IPS01)


Pioneer showed off the final design of their BD player (BDP-HD1), which won the "Home Video" category of CNET's "Best of CES 2006". The player is top of the line and truly lives up to the name "Elite" with features such as 1080p output via HDMI, upconversion of DVDs to 1080i/1080p and networking features for playback of HD video. The player is scheduled for US release in May 2006 and will retail for about $1,800. Please note that this price isn't representative of a standard Blu-ray player, it's an Elite-brand player which usually costs at least two times what a standard version does. Pioneer also displayed their BD/DVD writer (BDR-101A), which is scheduled for US release Q1 2006 and will retail for about $1,000. The BD writer supports recording of BD-R/BD-RE at 2x speed (72Mbps), DVD±R at 8x speed and DVD±RW at 4x speed. The drive also reads BD-ROMs at 2x speed and DVDs at 8x speed.

Pioneer's exhibition

BD vs DVD comparison

Pioneer's BD/DVD writer (BDR-101A)

Pioneer's Elite-brand BD player (BDP-HD1) with 1080p support

BDP-HD1 specs


Samsung displayed their upcoming BD player (BD-P1000), which supports 1080p output via HDMI as well as upconversion of DVDs to 1080i/1080p. The player which is likely to be the first Blu-ray player on the market is scheduled for US release in April 2006 and will retail for about $1,000. Samsung also displayed their BD/HDD recorder (BD-HR1000), which features a 400GB HDD and wired/wireless networking capabilities for transferring video, music and photos. After the show we found out that they showed off their BD/DVD/CD writer (SH-B022A) as well, but unfortunately we completely missed it. We also spent some time talking to a Samsung representative at the show who informed us that they are 100% committed to Blu-ray and have no plans to market or manufacture any HD-DVD products.

Samsung's exhibition

Samsung's BD player (BD-P1000) with 1080p support


Sharp showed off their new BD player (DV-BP1U), which supports 1080i/720p output via HDMI and upconversion of DVDs to 1080i/720p. According to a Sharp representative at the show they plan to release the player in the US some time this summer.

Sharp's exhibition

Sharp's BD player (DV-BP1U) with 1080i support


LG displayed their BD player (BD199), which supports 1080p output via HDMI and upconversion of DVDs to 1080i/1080p. The player is scheduled for US release in Q2 2006 and will retail for less than $1,000. LG also displayed their internal BD rewriter (GBW-H10N), which supports recording and rewriting of BD/DVD/CD media. The BD rewriter is scheduled for US release in Q2 2006 and will retail for about $500.

LG's exhibition

LG's 102" Plasma HDTV

LG's BD/DVD/CD rewriter (GBW-H10N)

"Stealth" interactivity
LG's BD player (BD199) with 1080p support


Mitsubishi was showing off a prototype BD player. When asked about their plans for the player a Mitsubishi representative told us that they will try to have it on the US market later this year.

Mitsubishi's exhibition

Mitsubishi's prototype BD player


Hitachi displayed a prototype BD/HDD recorder, which also supports playback of DVDs and CDs. When asked about their plans for the recorder an Hitachi representative informed us that they plan to release the recorder in Japan at the end of this year. They don't currently have any plans to introduce the recorder in the US, but perhaps next year.

Hitachi's exhibition

Hitachi's prototype BD/HDD recorder


BenQ was showing off their BD/DVD/CD writer at the show, which is scheduled for world wide release in Q3 2006. The BD writer supports recording of BD-R/BD-RE at 2x speed (72Mbps), DVD±R at 12x speed and DVD±RW at 4x speed. The drive also reads Blu-ray discs at 2x speed, DVDs at 12x speed and CDs at 32x speed.

BenQ exhibition

BenQ's BD/DVD/CD writer (BW1000)


Verbatim announced that they will begin shipping their new BD-R/BD-RE media in early 2006 when hardware and software products supporting the formats are launched. The new BD media will include a proprietary super-hard coat developed by Verbatim, which allows the usage of the media in bare disc form.

Verbatim's exhibition

BD vs DVD comparison 50GB BD-R and
BD-RE media

Dell & Sonic

Sonic was showing their complete end-to-end Blu-ray Disc Creation and Playback solution on Dell's hardware in their joint section of the BDA booth. They offered demonstrations of CinePlayer BD playing movies and Scenarist BD which will be used by movie studios for BD title creation.

Dell and Sonic
at the BDA booth
"Fantastic Four" interactivity demonstration

Dell and Sonic

InterVideo & Ulead

InterVideo and Ulead were demonstrating Blu-ray authoring, burning, content navigation and playback software at CES. InterVideo's software on display included WinDVD BD Player and MediaOne Gallery BD. Ulead's software included Ulead DVD MovieFactory and Ulead BD Direct Disc Recorder.

InterVideo and
Ulead's booth
InterVideo and Ulead demonstrating Blu-ray support in their software


Nero was also at the show demonstrating playback and recording of Blu-ray discs in Nero 7 Ultra Edition using BenQ's BD/DVD/CD writer. They are currently working on adding support for BD-MV and BD-AV high definition authoring, capturing and video recording in the software.

Nero's booth

Nero 7 Ultra Edition with Blu-ray support

Showing Disney's
"Chronicles of Narnia"

HD-DVD Promotion Group

The HD-DVD Promotion group also had a joint booth for their member companies to exhibit products, but there wasn't much to see that we haven't already seen before. The HD-DVD related announcements at CES included launch titles from Warner, Paramount and Universal, content support from the Weinstein Company and Studio Canal, as well as plans for an external Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive. The HD-DVD launch is currently scheduled for the end of March, but could be delayed if AACS isn't finished in time.

HD-DVD's booth

HD-DVD movies on display

HD-DVD media chart

HD-DVD media

LG's prototype HD-DVD player (HD-199)
which looks just like their BD player (BD199)
Toshiba's Qosmio AV
Note PC with HD-DVD
HP's digital entertainment center
with a HD-DVD drive
HP's media center PC
with a HD-DVD drive
NEC's HD-DVD drive
Toshiba's HD-DVD drives Sanyo's HD-DVD
hybrid media


Toshiba as expected brought their HD-DVD player (HD-XA1) which is scheduled for US release in March 2006 and will retail for about $800, but surprised us with a new stripped down version of the HD-DVD player (HD-A1) that will be introduced at about $500. The decision to create the stripped down HD-DVD player must have come fairly recently as they only showed a non-working mockup version of the player which didn't have any connections or outputs on the back. The relatively low price shows that Toshiba is willing to offer their player as a loss-leader or at least without making a profit to gain market share. This move seems kind of desperate to us, but we guess that they didn't really have much of a choice. They have less studio support, less hardware support, no significant time-to-market advantage, which leaves them with just one factor to compete with, price. While we're unsure how well this approach will work with early adopters which generally favor more features instead of less, another potential problem is that other consumer electronics companies might decide to hold off on introducing their own HD-DVD players as they can't compete with Toshiba's pricing. When we asked a Sanyo representative at the show about their plans he told us that they've decided to take a wait-and-see approach before releasing their HD-DVD player. LG basically said the same thing about their plans.

Toshiba's exhibition

Toshiba's HD-DVD player (HD-XA1) with 1080i support
iHD interactivity
Toshiba's stripped down HD-DVD player (HD-A1)


Thomson demonstrated their RCA-brand HD-DVD player (HDV5000), which simply is a rebranded version of Toshiba's player. The player which will retail for about $500 is scheduled for release in April 2006. As far as we know this is the only HD-DVD player that is currently scheduled for release other than the Toshiba HD-DVD players.

Thomson's exhibition

Thomson's RCA-brand HD-DVD player (HDV5000)

Final words

That concludes our CES 2006 report, we hope you found it interesting. We'd also like to thank all of the companies and exhibitors at CES that answered our questions and allowed us to take photos of their products.


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