Dell has added Blu-ray disc capability to its notebook PC line, making an effort to compete with Sony and Toshiba in the growing market for mobile high-definition video platforms.
In addition to showing high-end movies and games, Dell's XPS M1710 notebook could serve as a central node to support digital entertainment throughout the home, the company says. Customers can save 50GB of either data or video on a single Blu-ray disc.
The ability to read and write data to the discs differentiates Blu-ray from HD-DVD, the competing standard for high-definition video, analysts say. Laptops with HD-DVD capability have lower prices but cannot save data to the discs, claims Samir Bhavnani, research director at Current Analysis.
"You are starting to see the different camps emerge within the computing companies, with Toshiba and Acer on the HD-DVD side and Sony and Dell on the Blu-ray side," he says. Sony's Vaio VGN-AR270 uses Blu-ray discs, while Acer's notebook and Toshiba's Qosmio G35-AV650 use HD-DVD.
Blu-ray and HD-DVD are improvements over standard DVD optical discs; they hold more data and let users watch high-definition video. All three techniques are optical discs, storing data in a binary form that is read by a scanning laser. But a Blu-ray disc can hold five times the capacity of a dual-layer DVD, Dell claims.
Movie studios and video game producers are eager to sell films on the new media, but the flow of new titles is only a trickle so far because content providers and hardware vendors can't decide which standard will prevail.
Pricing starts at US$3699 for the XPS M1710, including an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB of memory and up to 160GB of storage on a serial ATA hard drive.