The early impressions of Sony's initial Blu-ray releases are in and as you may have heard, they aren't so good. Many have pointed the blame at Sony's insistence on using MPEG-2 instead of the newer and more easily compressed MPEG-4. One of the reasons they cited for sticking with the older format was their insistence that the MPEG-4 authoring tools available were not of sufficient quality.
Whether that is true or not, Matsushita (Panasonic) has announced their own set of MPEG-4 Blu-ray encoder and authoring tools, which support Java (BD-J) for the interactive features Blu-ray is also capable of. According to what we can interpret of the press release, this will be available July 1st in United States yet Panasonic's (US) web site has no mention of it yet. Also no mention of cost or license fees, although this probably won't be on the shelf at CompUSA anytime soon.
Regardless, considering the apparent state of Blu-ray releases, we can't say for sure how much of the problem is the codec but one has to wonder how many discs will be released using the older technology if they continue to get poor reviews. Rumors have indicated the authoring tools made available by Sony support only MPEG-2 and for that reason all the studios have been using them. It will be interesting to see if there is any release date reshuffling of content in the same way some players have slipped, or if the other studios are able to get better results using Sony's own tools.
[Via AV Watch]
[Update] HDTV UK has more information on the MPEG-4 equipment available soon at the Panasonic Hollywood Library in California.