Sony to launch Blu-ray in US

Sony is preparing to launch Blu-ray, the new high definition video format to be used by PlayStation 3, with the first Blu-ray player hitting the US on 23 May at a bank-breaking cost of $999 (around £570).

The sky-high price tag suggests that PlayStation 3 could be similarly expensive - especially as Sony is still stating that PS3 has a May release date, despite rumours that the launch will be delayed.

The stand-alone Blu-ray player - which has the catchy name of BD-P1000 - is being manufactured by Samsung Electronics and will enable owners to watch films recorded on Blu-ray discs.

Unfortunately the choice of film for early adopters is limited, as only eight films will be available at launch: Hitch, 50 First Dates, The Last Waltz, A Knight's Tale, The Fifth Element, House of Flying Daggers, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and XXX.

Blu-ray is the new HD format that is capable of storing five times more data than a DVD and Sony is hoping it will be the next-gen format of choice for home entertainment. Blu-Ray will be competing against the HD-DVD format, which is being championed by Microsoft who will be launching a separate HD-DVD drive for Xbox 360.