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Dual-Layer DVD Recorders Expected In ’04

The first DVD-recording drives and decks that write to dual-layer write-once DVDs will be available next year.

Philips and Hewlett-Packard said they will ship such DVD-recording drives in the first half. The products will be based on the DVD+R format championed by Philips, HP and other members of the DVD+RW Alliance.

Philips will follow up, probably in the second half, with a home recorder that records onto the dual-layer DVD+R discs, which has almost double the capacity of single-layer DVD+R discs — or 8.5GB, compared to 4.7GB. The write-once discs match the capacity of prerecorded dual-layer DVDs and are readable by existing DVD drives and movie players.

Earlier this year, the DVD-R/RW camp announced the development of dual-layer DVD-R technology but hasn’t announced a target ship date.

Although the dual-layer +R format is still being finalized, the technology was demonstrated at October’s CEATAC show in Japan, and a 1.0 spec will be written in December, said Hans Driessen, spokesman for Philips Optical Storage. That will pave the way for HP to offer an internal and external drive in the first half, said Maureen Weber, GM of HP’s optical storage solutions business. Philips’ drive will be internal.

Additional Alliance companies will launch their first dual-layer DVD+R recorders and blank media in the first half in the United States, Weber claimed.

During a briefing here, the companies again demonstrated the technology but didn’t demonstrate prototypes of products intended to reach the market.

Existing DVD+R recorders won’t write to either layer of the new dual-layer discs, but Driessen said he held out hope for possible software upgrades, possibly combined with an IC change, to make it possible for current 8x DVD+R recording drives to write to both layers. The lasers of recorders with slower writing speeds lack the intensity to write to the semitransparent top layer or to the lower layer, Driessen said.

Once Philips and partner Mitsubishi Kagaku Media finalize the spec, they’ll know whether an upgrade to existing 8x recorders is possible, he noted.

The companies are still working on dual-layer DVD+RW rewritable discs, which are more difficult to develop, he said.