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Combo DVD drives bridge compatibility gap

PC and consumer platforms converging

A consortium of companies backing the new DVD+RW rewritable disc format is promoting the product's convergence between PC platforms and consumer electronics and its ‘legacy’ compatibility with existing DVD (digital versatile disc) formats.

One of the companies, Ricoh, demonstrated a working prototype of its DVD+RW drive at the Comdex IT trade in Las Vegas. Still images and video taken with a consumer video camera were burnt onto a disc, which was then played back on both a Pioneer stand-alone video player, and a Hitachi DVD-ROM drive.

Ricoh’s Takeshi "Ted" Matsui said his company and the others in the consortium - Hewlett Packard, Philips, Mitsubishi, Sony, and Yamaha - are testing discs written with their devices on consumer video players, and cooperating with other manufacturers to ensure compatibility.

The Ricoh machine will ship worldwide in the third quarter of 2001, said Matsui. "We don't have any definite price," he said, but Ricoh is aiming the product at both the consumer and professional markets.

"At the first stage, our customers will be high-end business and professional (users)," he said, adding that consortium partner Philips will focus more on consumer entertainment users.

Companies backing competing DVD formats were also on hand at Comdex, where several demonstrated home video editing applications for their machines.

Pioneer previewed its new DVD-R/RW writer at the same trade show. The company touted the device, which records discs that can be played back on most consumer DVD-video players, as a way to link PCs and home entertainment systems.

"Most people, we believe, will want to use this kind of drive for archiving and preserving home movies," said Andy Parsons, Pioneer's senior vice president for product development and technical support.

The machine, to be priced at less than £1500, is targeted at the consumer market. "It's going to be priced correctly," Parsons said.


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