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DVD wars

HP does first DVD+RW drive, sends in troops

HP is sticking by the seemingly slipping rewritable DVD format, DVD+RW, by releasing its first DVD+RW drive. It's also, bizarrely, sending out pictures of tanks with press releases to show it means business.

The DVD-writer dvd100i will be the first commercially available drive based on the DVD+RW standard, HP said. Users will be able to record DVD movies that can be viewed on a typical home DVD player and store up to 4.7GB. Content can also be overwritten so the disc can be reused.

The dvd100i records in the DVD format at 2.4-speed and reads at eight-speed. The maximum speed of CD-Rs is 32-/12-/10-speed (read/write/rewrite). Bundled with the device, which will be sold separately but also integrated in certain HP Pavilion PCs later this year, is video editing and data backup software, as well as other software. The unit should sell here for £549.

HP and other PC makers that are currently weathering a slump in PC sales hope DVD writers will have the same effect as CD writers and lead to a rise in PC sales. However, the different technologies on the market could cause some confusion among buyers.

Backers of DVD+RW, besides HP, include Philips, Sony, Yamaha, Thomson and Dell. But recently one of DVDs major proponents, Sony, made DVD-RW and not DVD+RW its de facto standard for non-PC devices.

DVD-RW, developed by Pioneer, is technically inferior, according to the DVD+RW camp. DVD-RW doesn't include the defect management and is said to be less usable with data files. DVD-RW is compatible with DVD players. Compaq is one of the companies that sells drives based on the technology.

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