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HP, Philips Reveal DVD+R Plans

VANCOUVER, WASH. — Hewlett-Packard and Philips became the first members of the DVD+RW Alliance to announce plans to add write-once DVD+R capability to their rewritable DVD+RW products.

The Alliance itself recently expressed support for adding DVD+R capability to DVD+ RW devices.

In the fall, HP will offer a free downloadable firmware upgrade that will add DVD+R capability to the company’s first DVD+ RW product, an aftermarket PC drive retailing at less than $1,000, said VP/GM John Spofford. In all likelihood, he added, DVD+R capability will be added as a running change to the device, which will also read and write CD-R/RW disks.

In Europe, a Philips spokesperson said the company will ship its aftermarket DVD+RW drive in October in the United States and elsewhere at around $1,000 and that a firmware upgrade would be available “sometime later.” Details and a firm price will be announced closer to the October ship date, she said.

Philips’ first DVD+RW video recorder will be unveiled during August’s Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) show in Berlin and during September’s CEDIA Expo, she continued.

The video recorder will also be firmware-upgradable to add DVD+R capability, but the company hasn’t released details on when and how the upgrade will be available. The recorder will be priced at around $2,000.

Philips said it will offer DVD+R and DVD+RW blank media to support its launches. The company declined to specify prices.

HP’s Spofford said Ricoh “has expressed an interest” in offering +R blank discs, which he said would cost less than +RW discs. Ricoh, however, stopped marketing recordable media, and PC drives, in the United States in February.

DVD+R “was always a subset of the +RW specification,” Spofford noted, “and it has always been the intent to have write-once capability.” The Alliance members, however, initially focused on +RW because consumers’ primary interest is in rewritability, particularly to capture and edit home videos, he said. Nonetheless, “there will also be a pretty substantial need to archive memories and make backup copies of key files [that can’t be accidentally erased],” he said.

The +R spec delivers all of the advantages of DVD+RW, except for rewritability, Spofford said. Compared to the competing DVD-RW format, the advantages include a higher degree of backward compatibility in the installed base of DVD-Video players and DVD-ROM drives and no need for disc finalization, +RW supporters have said.