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Hewlett-Packard said Tuesday that it will bring products using Blu-Ray next-generation optical technology to market in late 2005.

In January, both HP and Dell announced their support for the Blu-Ray specification at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, HP said it would incorporate the technology both in Media Center PCs as well as desktop PCs, personal workstations and digital entertainment devices beginning next year. Blu-Ray notebooks will follow in 2006.

The Blu-Ray optical disc technology is seen as the next evolutionary step for DVD technology, which can encode up to 4.7 Gbytes of data using a red laser. Blu-Ray, as the name suggests, uses a blue laser to write up to 27 Gbytes of data in a single-layer disc. The Blu-Ray technology was developed by a group of companies including Sony, Hitachi and Philips. NEC and Toshiba, among others, are backing a rival spec, HD-DVD.

Sony has already indicated that its next-generation PlayStation 3 console will use Blu-Ray discs.

HP executives stopped short of exclusively supporting Blu-Ray, however. “We are very confident that the Blu-Ray disk is the right format for our customers,” said Josh Peterson, director of strategic alliances for HP’s Optical Storage Solutions group. “At this point, we are not looking at any other solutions for the moment.”

“From an HP perspective, I didn’t say the word ‘exclusive’,” Peterson added.

Peterson said that the early market for DVD technology was hindered by the fact that it was a read-only market; write-once and rewriteable solutions came later. “Now, everyone’s on an even footing from day one,” he said.

In April, Sony described how to manufacture a Blu-Ray disc from paper.