By James Wells in Berlin

BERLIN: Philips has capitalised on the hype surrounding the Blu-ray optical disc format, with the release of a media centre which incorporates the new high definition technology.

Philips launched the media centre at the IFA consumer electronics exhibition in Berlin this week, and expects to have models released in Germany, UK, France and the Netherlands by the end of November for €2,200 (A$3,670).

There are no plans to launch the product in Australia at this stage.

In addition to featuring a Blu-ray disc player, the media centre features two TV tuners, a 320GB hard-disk drive for storing video, audio and digital photography, and is compatible with both Microsoft Vista and Intel Viiv.

The Philips Blu-ray player, BDP9000, will launch in North America in the fourth quarter of this year for approximately $US1000 (A$1,300). The same product will launch in Europe in the first quarter of 2007 for over €1,000 (A$1,600).
Philips has also announced the pricing on its Blu-ray disc media. A single-layer 25GB write-once disc will be priced at €15 (A$25) in Europe and $US20 (A$25) America, and a 25GB re-writeable version will be available in Europe for €20 and $US25 in the US.

A 50GB disc will be released in the first half of 2007 with no pricing available at this stage.