Taiwanese component manufacturer BenQ hopes to launch a Blu-ray Disc writer in Europe at the end of August. The device will be one of the first of this kind to come to market.

BenQ, which announced the recorder in early June at Computex, said today it will initially be sold in Europe, China and Taiwan for €799 (around £550).

The BW1000 Blu-ray writer will also read and write DVDs and CDs, making it compatible with the most common forms of disc storage media on the market.

Blu-ray technology, which uses a blue laser instead of the red and infrared lasers used with DVDs and CDs, allows users to store far more data on a single DVD or CD. The BW1000 will be able to record up to two hours of HD (high-definition) TV on a single-sided Blu-ray disc, which has a capacity of 25GB. It can hold 13 hours of standard TV content, BenQ said. A double-layer Blu-ray disc would allow users to store 50GB of data on a single disc.

Blu-ray Disc is one of two technologies vying to replace DVD for HD content. The battle between Blu-ray Disc and the competing HD-DVD format is a high-stakes game because the two aren't compatible. The loser could easily drop out of the consumer market, much like the Betamax video cassette format, which lost out to VHS (video home system) in the 1980s.

Users face a dilemma in choosing one format over the other because they could end up with the one that loses the battle for supremacy, which might mean, for example, that over time fewer movie studios offer titles on the format.

HD-DVD is backed by Toshiba, the DVD Forum, and tech giants including Microsoft and Intel. The champions of Blu-ray Disc include Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and others.

One of the keys to gaining market acceptance will be the price of players and recorders, analysts say. BenQ's BW1000 Blu-ray Disc recorder is attractively priced relative to a Blu-ray Disc player Panasonic plans to launch later this year for around $1,500 (£810).

Toshiba began selling the world's first HD-DVD player in March in Japan for ¥110,000 (£520).