Sony and Samsung, two of the biggest backers of the Blu-ray Disc format during its battle with rival HD DVD, are releasing new Blu-ray Disc products with the anticipation that consumers are finally ready to start upgrading to high-definition video discs.

Sony's new machines, the BDZ-A70 and BDZ-T90, are both Blu-ray Disc recorders that pack a hard-disk drive and dual-tuners for Japan's digital TV broadcasting system. The former model has a 320G byte hard disk and iLink port for hooking up to a DV camcorder while the latter a 500G byte drive but comes without the camcorder connection. Both cost ¥168,000 (US$1,608) and are available in Japan only.

Last year Sony said it would make Blu-ray Disc standard on its digital video recorders. Sony, which developed much of the technology that sits at the heart of Blu-ray Disc, is beginning to promote the format strongly after Toshiba pulled the plug on HD DVD in February.

Samsung's new player, the BD-P1500, supports "full HD" 1080p playback and accepts not only Blu-ray Disc but also DVD and CDs. In the case of DVDs it offers upconverting to 720p, 1080i and 1080p.

But it won't support BD-Live, the next major addition to the Blu-ray Disc format, out of the box. BD-Live is an interactive system that brings functions like gaming, e-commerce and new content to a Blu-ray Disc player through an Internet connection, due to be available in coming months.

The first buyers of the BD-P1500 will have to upgrade their players to support BD-Live through an Internet or USB memory drive.

The player will be available worldwide from May and will cost around US$399.