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1/5/2006
02:23 PM
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Sony, Dell Back Blu-ray, DRM At CES

Sony Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer Thursday rolled out the star power in a keynote at the International CES show that included box office star Tom Hanks, moviemakers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and a first-viewing of a clip to the upcoming thriller, "The DaVinci Code."

Sony Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer Thursday rolled out the star power in a keynote at the International CES show that included box office star Tom Hanks, moviemakers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and a first-viewing of a clip to the upcoming thriller, "The DaVinci Code."

But it was Stringer's statement on rights management, his support and plans for Blu-ray Disc (BD) technology, and Sony's new product lineup that could get the hottest reviews in 2006.

"With five times the capacity of DVD, BD stores nine hours of HD, or 23 hours of standard-definition video," Stringer told a packed house at the Las Vegas Hilton theater. "When you buy a BD device you can make legal (digital) copies across a home network."

Stringer presides over a global electronics and entertainment powerhouse, which has its hand in movie productions, music, consumer electronics and commercial information technology.

He told the crowd that later this year, Sony will pull out all the stops in delivering both content and hardware to give a boost to the new platform, which has taken years to produce. First, he said, Sony will deliver 20 new movies on BD video discs this spring. And, after investing heavily in manufacturing capacity, "beginning in March, (Sony) will be ready to accept orders for Blu-ray discs on a worldwide basis."

Stringer's point of view was endorsed by Dell Chairman Michael Dell, who appeared on stage with Stringer to say his company will be ready to deliver PCs with BD capability as well.

"Our customers told us they wanted a new optical standard that would last at least a decade," said Dell, who was slated to deliver his own CES keynote speech later in the day. "We've been working with Sony and other companies for at least several years. Dell's always been an advocate for industry standards. Many companies have come together around Blu-ray."

Dell lauded BD's ability to store as much as 50 Gbytes of data on a single disk as a necessity, especially in an era when PCs have hard drives that alone can store up to 500 GB. "We think this architecture is going to provide for innovations even we can't predict," Dell said.

Stringer's audience applauded loudly for new products such as a demo of Sony's new Sony-Ericsson W810 Walkman phone and the company's forthcoming Sony reader for ebooks, which received an on-stage endorsement by bestselling author Dan Brown ("The DaVinci Code"). However the strongest reaction came when Stringer introduced Hanks, Howard and Grazer to talk about their upcoming feature film based on Brown's novel. The film has Sony's backing. All three raved about Sony's high-end, HD video systems which Howard and Grazer used to shoot their new movie.

Hanks, who mock-acted reading off a teleprompter in clowning around with Stringer, said he was happy to show up at CES for the event and would be happy to have future films shot in digital video for playback on any device.

"I'll act anywhere," Hanks said. "I don't care the medium. I'll do podcasts."

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