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Pioneer To Begin Shipping PC DVD-R/RW Drive In Early 2001

NEW YORK — Pioneer reported last week it will start shipping a DVD-R/RW PC drive to retailers and into the OEM market early next year.

The company, which has a strong presence as an OEM supplier of CD-ROM drives, released tentative plans to ship the drive during first-quarter 2001. However, the launch date could be affected if the DVD Forum delays approving the DVD-RW 1.1 specification.

Pricing was not available for the drive, but the write-once 4.7GB media will cost around $10 and the rewritable about $20 to $25.

The drive can burn discs that are compatible with about 80 percent of the installed base of DVD-ROM drives and video players. This compatibility should help eliminate the primary obstacle of consumer acceptance of rewritable DVD drives, said Andy Parsons, Pioneer’s senior VP for product development.

The Pioneer drive, said Parsons, will also be partially cross-compatible with the competing rewritable format DVD-RAM in that the DVD-R/RW media should be able to be played on a DVD-RAM player.

He could not say if DVD-R/RW could work with the DVD+RW format.

Pioneer sees video editing as the killer application that will drive DVD-R/RW sales in the same way music recording has fueled CD-RW sales, Parsons said. DVD-R/RW media is simpler to edit, has a longer shelf life, about 100 years, and is more robust than video tape. To a lesser extent the drives will find a niche as data and digital imaging storage devices.

Pioneer did not reveal which PC manufacturers would be a launch partner for the drive. Pioneer, in conjunction with the RW Products Promotion Initiative-a consortium of 33 companies backing the DVD-R/RW format, is opening a liaison office in California this fall to recruit U.S.-based PC firms to the format, Parsons said.

The video-editing aspect of the drive is what connects the PC DVD-R/RW product to its partner product, the DVD-R/RW home video recorder/player, which Pioneer expects to ship at the same time as the PC product with a suggested retail price of $2,500.

Pioneer is also developing a video device that combines a DVD-R/RW drive with a digital video recorder. This could be on the market by late 2002.

Parson’s envisions consumers editing home videos on a PC and then placing the disc in the home video recorder/player. The PC drive and home recorder together then form a third of Pioneer’s Digital Network Entertainment solution.

This concept has information being downloaded from the Internet via a residential gateway, then stored on a DVD disc for viewing and distribution, and displayed on a plasma screen television.

“All three products will work together to supply a complete digital solution,” said Bob Niimi, Pioneer’s VP group business development.