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Dual-Layer DVD Drives To Spur Category

With DVD burners selling almost at commodity price levels, several manufacturers hope to reinvigorate the category by introducing dual-layer drives and blank media, the first of which will hit stores next month.

DVD+RW Alliance members Hewlett-Packard, Philips and Sony announced plans at the International CES in January to roll out dual-layer drives during the year. These Plus R formatted drives will burn to newly developed blank media that has two layers of recordable substrate that can hold 8.5GB of data, or double the current capacity.

Sony was the first vendor to officially announce its initial dual-layer line. On March 17, Sony introduced two models, the DRU-700A and DRX-700UL, with ship dates slated for the end of the second quarter. Pricing is $230 for the internal DRU-700A and $330 for the external DRX-700UL. The drives also function as single-layer dual-format burners.

Philips’ product details are sketchier, but a company spokesman said some models should be on the market in the April/May time period.

HP is being even more elusive, saying product will be available this summer, giving essentially the same information it gave at CES.

Verbatim will support these drives with its new 2.4x DataLifePlus DVD+R dual-layer blank media that it said will be on the market by spring.

Companies backing the Dash DVD and RAM recordable format, such as Toshiba and Panasonic, have not made any dual-layer announcements. A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company will not produce products that have not been approved by the DVD Forum.

There is a plan in place to introduce dual-layer DVD-R products, said Tony Jasionowski, Panasonic’s senior manager of technologies and the U.S. chair of the recordable DVD council, but the council has not yet approved the specification. There is no plan for dual-layer DVD-RAM.

The DVD Forum, which Toshiba and Panasonic belong, backs the Dash and RAM rewritable specification.