By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Although CD-R and CD-RW formats are purchased widely today as low-cost storage media for data and audio applications, there is growing trend toward DVD+RW, which can be used in both personal computer data storage and consumer electronics video.
Over the long term, DVD+RW drives will replace CD-R/RW drives because they can do anything a CD-R/RW can, but faster and with much higher capacity. Also, most DVD+RW drives will be able to read and write from CD-R and CD-RW media.
However, with the huge installed consumer base that can play CD-Rs recorded in the home, CD-Recordable Digital Audio should continue as a hot commodity.
"We see that recordable CD-R will still be the major choice of consumers for the next few years," said Rich Martino, product manager at TDK. "CD-R still has the major advantage over recordable DVD media in regards to price of the drives, media and playback compatibility and exchange. Even though CD-R's capacity is 700MB vs. the 4.7GB capacity of DVD, it still satisfies the consumer's requirement for data storage," he said.
To suit the needs of home users who want a fast, affordable way to backup and archive large amounts of data, Garden City, N.Y.-based TDK has extended and enhanced the storage flexibility of CD-RW drives.
To this end, the company has introduced a CD-RW burner capable of packing 2GB of uncompressed data on inexpensive optical disks. And although recordable DVD discs offer more than twice the capacity of MultiLevel (ML) media, TDK's ML-enhanced CD-RW drive records at about twice the speed of a DVD burner, said TDK. The value-oriented product might be compared to a DVD drive costing about $200 and DVD recordable discs that are twice the retail of ML media.
The TDK multi-mode CD/MultiLevel (ML) burner will be available at $199 suggested retail in the second quarter of 2002, along with 2GB Plus ML-R and ML-RW discs at a suggested $1.99 for the ML-R and $2.99 for the ML-RW.
"We are seeing a quicker transition for some consumers who are switching from a CD recorder to a DVD recorder," cautions TDK's Martino. "These consumers have a specific application need that CD-R's capacity can not easily satisfy — video editing. Consumers want to transfer their movies from tape media to DVD media to be able to play them on their home DVD movie players. CD-R can not accommodate them.
"We are also finding that these consumers tend to be more familiar with burners and discs, since many of them previously owned CD burners. So they understand such things as write speed and why, for example, they should use 2X DVD-R media vs. media that is only 1X. They know that they will save an hour of recording time using media that is 2X, so they look for media that is labeled 2X," said Martino.
The new category of DVD recordable media "is starting out slow," said Gary DeFeo, general manager of the Recording Media Division at JVC Company of America, "but as soon as the hardware comes down in price, we feel it will grow in a similar fashion to the way CD-R did."
JVC Recording Media is introducing three new products in the DVD recordable category. These are DVD-R at a suggested $12.99 retail, DVD-RW re-recordable at a suggested $14.99 and DVD-RAM rewritable at a suggested $21.99. All are 4.7GB, and the DVD-RW is compliant with copy protection for video (CPRM). The three were scheduled for shipping the first week in March, according to Wayne, N.J.-based JVC.
Imation, which is promoting DVD-R as the next generation of optical media, is currently offering product at $21.65 suggested retail. The disc, ideal for combined storage of music, video and data, offers a write-once format and storage capacity of 4.7GB.
"We continue to see strong growth in optical media as the market continues to transition from CD to DVD," said Rusty Rosenberger, director of marketing and business development for Oakdale, Minn.-based Imation Personal Storage Solutions. "We believe optical media will be the most successful blank media format, due to its large distribution capabilities, huge install base, archive possibilities and low cost per MB.
"Although the current DVD market remains confusing, with so many competing formats vying for consumers' attention," continued Rosenberger, "we believe multiple DVD formats will ultimately co-exist by providing the best value/performance characteristics for individual applications like data storage and personal audio/video."
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., recognizing the changing face of the audio and video categories resulting from the emergence of digital formats, as well as the growing penetration of DVD players and drives into the market, has introduced new products in four recordable DVD formats — DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD+RW.
Fuji, which believes the creation and sharing of digital data — including movies, photos, music and large data files — is converging across three applications to one media type, is offering DVD-R discs with 4.7GB capacity for data storage, equal to 120 minutes of recording time. Compatible with general-use DVD-R drives and recorders only, the write-once product is scheduled for first-quarter availability.
DVD-RW, for recording video and multimedia files, erase and record again over 1,000 times, also offers 4.7GB or up to 120 minutes of recording time. Discs are compatible with DVD-RW recorders only and are scheduled for first-quarter shipping.
DVD+RW in a rewritable format is compatible with DVD+RW recorders and is scheduled to be available early this year.
Suggested retails were not made available by the Elmsford, N.Y.-based Consumer Products, Magnetic Markets division of Fujifilm.
Memorex Products, which entered the recordable DVD media marketplace more than a year ago with DVD-R and DVD-RAM, has expanded its Memorex-branded blank media product lineup with DVD+RW.
"With even more affordable DVD+RW drives being introduced by Hewlett-Packard, Sony and Philips, we believe that these new drives will accelerate the growth of this emerging category," said Michael Golacinski, president of Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Memorex.
"Just as we replaced the floppy disk with CD-ROM and then a CD-R and then CD-RW, we will evolve to a recordable DVD/CD-RW drive," he said.
"Sales of blank media were stable in 2001," said Peter Brinkman, vice president of marketing at Maxell Corporation of America, "powered by the success of digital formats — such as CD-R Music in audio and Digital-8 and Mini DV in camcorder media.
"We expect the impact of digital formats to be even stronger in 2002 as CD-R Music and digital camcorder formats continue to grow," continued Brinkman. "We also believe 2002 will be year one of a new recordable DVD Video platform, directly and positively influencing the blank video category.
"CD-R Music has really revitalized and reshaped the total audio category. On a unit basis, CD-R Music contributed almost 50 percent of sales of blank audio media in 2001, and we expect that trend to accelerate in 2002. The challenge in the audio category going forward is the introduction of additional digital products to sustain and build momentum."
To go along with its CD-R Music as a step-up product, Maxell also is introducing a mini CD-R for use with MP3 players and digital cameras.
"Sales in the total camcorder media category in 2001 were up significantly," said Brinkman. "This was driven by consumers' enthusiasm over new digital formats, such as Hi-8/Digital-8 and Mini DV. In addition, the overall price matrix for camcorder hardware continues to be extremely favorable for consumers, which has a direct and positive impact on camcorder media sales.
"We also see the introduction of new DVD-RAM and DVD-R video camcorder formats, with their advanced features and product benefits, further stimulating the category."
Maxell is highlighting its new DVD-RAM Video Camcorder disc media for use with the new Hitachi DVD camcorder.
The 2.8GB Maxell DVD-RAM Video Camcorder disc, at a suggested $24.99 retail, has a total capacity of one hour of MPEG2 video or 10,000 JPEG stills, and can be re-written up to 100,000 times.
"We believe the overall video sales trend will be positively influenced in 2002," said Brinkman, "as the new recordable DVD products provide the blank video category with digital formats to reinvigorate it much the same way CD-R Music revitalized the audio media category."
Aside from recording media, and as part of a strategy to offer a broad portfolio of media and storage solutions, Sony is making available Micro Vault storage media to fulfill what it calls a growing demand for ultra-portable, quick file transfer for mobile consumers.
As a Windows or Mac OS-capable device, Micro Vault storage media makes computer-to-computer data exchange simple, said Sony. With the proliferation of USB-equipped computers, Micro Vault storage media users can transfer data without additional cables, adapters or driver software.
The device, which offers "plug-and-play" capability, allows users to take such large files as PowerPoint presentations that include high-resolution graphics, video clips and other multimedia elements, and instantly transfer these to another computer.
The Micro Vault USB media device does not require software drivers when used with Windows 2000, ME, XP, and Mac O.S. 9.0 and higher.
The Micro Vault product line, available in stores in the first quarter from Park Ridge, N.J.-based Sony, comes color-coded, according to storage capacity. Suggested retails and colors: 16MB, $49.99, orange; 32MB, $89.99, red; 64MB, $149.99, blue; and 128MB, $299.99, black.
With the introduction of its DataLifePlus 4.7GB DVD+R media as a companion product to its DVD+RW, Verbatim claims a first — offering DVD+RW technology in both the rewritable and write-once formats. Verbatim's new DVD+R discs are certified for 2.4x recording speed.
"DVD+RW technology is an enabling technology for the convergence of PCs and home entertainment devices," said Tim Clatterbuck, Verbatim's director of optical storage marketing. "People like the simplicity of using a single DVD+RW disc for computer data and consumer electronics applications, but they also want the savings, security and compatibility that write-once media provides. Our new DVD+R media offers the best of both technologies."
Verbatim's DVD+R discs can be played back by the vast majority of DVD-ROM drives and DVD video players in use today, said the Charlotte, N.C.-based company.
To provide users with a quick and easy way to distinguish between discs for computer storage and those used to store movies and video, the company packages +RW and +R media in standard jewel box cases and DVD video tall boxes.
DataLifePlus DVD+R write-once media has a suggested retail of $9.99 for the single-sided 4.7GB discs, while DVD+RW rewritable media is available for $14.99 suggested retail. Verbatim is scheduled to begin shipping DVD+R media in March.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.