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DVD+RW Units Slated For ’01

LAS VEGAS -After stating that the consumer market is ready for rewritable DVD devices, Hewlett-Packard, Philips and Ricoh will start shipping DVD+RW PC drives and home recorders by next summer.

At Comdex the three vendors-in conjunction with fellow DVD+RW supporters Sony and Yamaha-demonstrated a working DVD+RW PC drive and home recorder for the first time in the United States.

The demo had video burned by a Ricoh DVD+RW drive and a Philips home recorder and then played back on both devices. To show the technology’s backward compatibility, the discs were played in a commercially available DVD movie player and then swapped back and forth, with the PC disc being played by the home recorder and vice versa.

None of the companies would re-lease pricing on their proposed products. Robert Van Eijk, Philips general manager for optical storage, said the Philips PC drive will come in priced below $1,000, but would give no further details.

Chris Buma, Philips program manager for A/V disc recording, would only say the home recorder would be “competitively priced.” Ricoh, which will also manufacture blank media, gave the same answer.

Panasonic is selling a DVD-RAM home recorder for $3,999. DVD-RAM is competing with DVD+RW to become the standard for re-writable DVD.

John Spofford, VP/general manager of HP’s Colorado Personal Storage Solutions, said that “pricing for its PC drive has not been worked out, but it will come in at a range that will allow for pervasive adoption [by consumers].”

HP has added CD-RW capability to the drive to make it even more appealing to consumers. Spofford said that HP’s consumer research found that end users did not want to lose the ability to burn CDs for use in their other audio products.

Tadatoshi Sakamaki, a Ricoh vice president, said the company’s first drive will have 2.5x rewrite speed, 8x DVD read speed and 32x CD-ROM read speed.

The DVD+RW camp downplayed the fact that its home player will hit retail almost one year after Panasonic’s player. Van Eijk said the market is just getting ready to accept rewritable DVD, implying that the mid-2001 ship date will coincide with consumer demand.

Prior to Comdex, members of the DVD-RAM consortium downplayed the DVD+RW and declined to have their own demo, stating that they already have proven devices for sale.