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Sony's Blu-ray Boosts DVD Recorder Sales in Japan

Sales of high definition Blu-ray DVD recorders are zooming up in Japan as consumers take to the new generation of home movie entertainment after the end of a bitter format war.

Last month the more expensive Blu-ray recorders topped the old generation recorders in the value of sales for the first time, with around a third of machines sold now carrying the new format, research firm BCN Ltd said in a statement.

"Full high-definition picture quality has become a main stream for big-screen TVs, and camcorders with higher picture quality are getting popular too," said BCN chief analyst Shigehiro Tanaka.

"From the input of data to output, high definition is taking root in Japan."

Japan was at the heart of the format war, which pitted the Blu-ray discs championed by Sony against Toshiba's HD-DVD discs.

Consumers held back waiting to see who would win the rerun of the 1970s battle between Betamax and VHS video tapes, until movie studios lined up behind Blu-ray and its rival bit the dust in February.

The April sales for Blu-ray in Japan were almost three times the 12.4 percent share for both formats in January, before HD-DVD's demise, BCN's survey figures showed.

Sales of the Blu-ray are expected to rapidly expand in coming months as makers such as Matsushita Electric Industrial are likely to cut down prices in a lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, BCN said.

Sony Signs Agreement with U.S. Cable Firms

Separately, Sony has signed an agreement with the top U.S. cable companies that leads the way for televisions that can receive digital signals without need for a television set-top box, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said on Tuesday.

U.S. cable television customers currently use separate devices known as set-top boxes, which are made by companies such as Motorola and Cisco Systems, which owns Scientific Atlanta.

Other consumer electronics companies besides Sony also have been invited to formally join the memorandum of understanding Sony negotiated with Comcast ,Time Warner Cable,Cox Communications, CharterCommunications , Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks, the cable organization said.

The agreement establishes the fundamentals for a retail market for the digital cable-ready televisions and addresses how they will be sold with services like video-on-demand, digital video recording and interactive programming guides, according to the cable group which did not publish the entire agreement.

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