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Sony Attempts To Dash Rewritable DVD War

Sony introduced the Dual RW combination DVD+RW/-RW PC drive in a move it hopes will halt the war now taking place between the DVD+R/+RW and DVD-R/-RW formats.

The Dual RW is Sony’s attempt to end the format war that has been raging for the past year between DVD+R/+RW and DVD-R/-RW. By creating a drive that can accommodate both media types the company believes the category is now positioned to take off. The new drive is fully compatible with both formats’ specifications.

“It is time for the manufacturers to remove the risk for the consumer by combining the formats into one drive,” said Bob DeMoulin, Sony’s marketing manager for storage products.

Two versions of the Dual RW are being launched. An internal model will ship in October with a $349 suggested retail price, and an external unit will follow in November with a $429 suggested retail price. Sony hopes the drive will put an end to any potential customer confusion over having two competing formats on the market. Sony’s new drives have speeds of 4x DVD-R, 2x DVD-RW and 2.4x DVD+R/+RW. Sony expects media capable of handling these recording speeds to be available soon.

DeMoulin said the development of a new chipset was the major technological breakthrough that enabled the drives to be brought to market at a reasonable price, which is about $100 lower than Sony’s current DVD+RW drive. The Dual RW chipset, which took about one year to produce, handles the work formerly divided between 11 chips.

Sony had been a vocal supporter of the DVD+RW format as an original supporter of the DVD+R/+RW format and as one of the founding firms of the DVD+RW Alliance. It, along with Philips and Hewlett-Packard, introduced its first DVD+RW drive earlier this year and has had one on the market for several months.

DeMoulin did not know if the Dual RW technology would be licensed, but said Sony told neither the DVD+RW Alliance nor the DVD Forum were told about the company’s plans prior to today’s announcement.

The company plans to keep its current DVD+RW drive on the market temporarily, but DeMoulin expects it to slowly fade out before the holiday selling season goes into full swing. He was not sure if Sony would eventually drop one format if it became obvious that consumers were no longer interested.

However, Sony supported the competing DVD-R/-RW format for use in home player/recorders. DeMoulin said a combination player for the home market is in the works and an announcement could be forthcoming on it by the International CES in January.