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PC World

Sony, HP push rewritable DVD

June 2, 1999
Web posted at: 10:29 a.m. EDT (1429 GMT)

by Michael Drexler

TOKYO (IDG) -- In a bid to set a standard for rewritable storage systems, Sony and Hewlett-Packard will begin selling the world's first DVD+RW drives in the U.S. as early as this month.

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The companies will ship the Digital Versatile Disc, rewritable 3GB internal drives for between $600 and $700 later this year, Sony and HP spokespersons said here on Tuesday. HP will make its drive available to some customers starting in June, while the Sony product will be on shelves in the U.S. a few months later, they said. Sony will decide whether or not to sell the drives worldwide after looking at sales figures in the U.S., according to a company spokesperson.

The rollout of the first DVD+RW drives is the latest move in a battle over rewritable storage. The product is positioned against the DVD-RAM drives being sold by Matsushita and others, including Toshiba and Hitachi.

Sony will build the drives, and both the Japanese vendor and HP will sell them under their separate brand names. The two vendors initially expect production to be 10,000 to 20,000 drives per month, according to representatives at the companies.

Multitalented technology

In addition to functioning as backup drives for high-end PCs, DVD+RW drives can read most digital disc formats, from DVD-ROMs to audio CDs, with a few modifications, according to a representative at Sony. The drives will not, however, read DVD-RAM discs.

Depending on the design of the drive, DVD-RAM drives can also read different formats, according to a spokesman at Toshiba. Compared to DVD+RW discs, DVD-RAM discs have a slightly lower storage capacity at 2.6GB per side, though a Toshiba spokesperson said that his company would ship a 4.7GB DVD-RAM drive toward the end of this year.

A key distinction between the formats for end users may be the maturity of the technologies. While DVD+RW drives are new to the market, vendors have been selling DVD-RAM drives since late last year, the Toshiba spokesman said.

DVD+RW's backers, in addition to HP and Sony, include Philips, Ricoh, Mitsubishi, and Yamaha.

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