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HP, Philips To Ship Dual Layer +R Drives

Hewlett-Packard, Philips Electronics and Sony will ship DVD+R drives capable of burning to the new 8.5GB dual-layer DVD+R media in 2004.

Maureen Weber, HP’s general manager, optical storage solutions, said PC variants of the new drive will ship during the spring. The initial shipment will include aftermarket internal and external drives. Pricing has not been set, but Weber was confident the new products would follow the same price trend that has made current DVD rewritable drives very affordable.

Chris Buma, Philips program manager for A/V, said his company will have PC and consumer electronics dual-layer drives available. The PC drive will come out in the first half for the aftermarket and OEM. The CE model will follow in the second half of 2004. Philips has also not set pricing.

Sony also demonstrated its first DVD burner to write to dual-layer DVD+R discs. The dual-format burner will be available around midyear, initially with a “small premium,” the company said.

The dual-layer technology, which was demonstrated for the first time in Japan last October, will write at 2.4x speed to a single-sided disc, Weber said. The media is backward compatible with all DVD players and ROM drives.

However, current DVD Plus burners will not be able to utilize the new media. Weber said the laser in current drives is not powerful enough to properly burn down to the second recording layer.

The DVD+RW Alliance is studying whether the dual-layer technology can be utilized with rewritable media. At this time they consider it very possible that a dual-layer rewritable technology can be developed, but there are many backward-compatibility issues to be solved, Weber said.

The DVD+RW Alliance also reported that the first 16x Plus burners would become available in 2004 and the group cited data that showed the growth of DVD+R/+RW drives and the dual format variety that include the ability to burn DVD-R/-RW media. According to the research firm TSR, Plus drives had a 35 percent share of the drive market with with Plus/Dash dual drives holding 33 percent for the third quarter of 2003. On the media side the dash format is still dominant, primarily because it is the favored type of media in the Japanese market.