Three DVD recordable formats get thumbs up

The Recordable DVD Council (RDVDC) will have its cake and eat it too, it seems. At a Comdex press conference yesterday, RDVDC -- a coalition of nearly 75 DVD technology developers and manufacturers -- expressed support for all the recordable DVD technologies (DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW) that comply with the recordable DVD formats established by the DVD Forum.

The DVD Forum is an industry association whose 230-plus members include all major DVD manufacturers as well as the leading DVD software developers and DVD media producers around the world. The RDVDC is dedicated to advancing DVD Forum-standard recordable DVD technologies and products worldwide.

During the briefing, engineers from Panasonic Corp., Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and Ritek Corp. discussed the current state of DVD recordable technologies, their applications, and what lies ahead. At the end of the briefing, over 30 hardware, software and solution providers showcased currently shipping products, systems and solutions that incorporate or support the DVD Forum-approved recordable DVD formats. The products, which included both consumer and business solutions, ranged from tools for video development/production, graphic design, multimedia development and Web design, to backup/archiving, Internet streaming video and Terabyte-capacity libraries for data warehousing.

At the end of the presentations, participants in the RDVDC Pavilion provided demonstrations of products featuring all three Forum-approved formats, including the new low-cost dual-technology DVD drives that IDC predicts will help recordable DVD drives increase from 1.4 million units this year to more than 30 million units in 2005.

There's some consumer confusion over the DVD Recordable formats. And, as we reported on Oct. 9 Apple Computer Inc. has no plans to support DVD-RW capabilities in its SuperDrive. However, that doesn't mean that you can't use DVD-RW media in the SuperDrive.

The SuperDrive, which comes with Apple's mid-range and high-end G4 desktops, reads and writes CDs and makes DVDs that can be played in consumer DVD players. Apple has no plans to support the DVD-RW standard at this time. Since it's not clear that this standard will become ubiquitous, they'll continue to evaluate it, but for now, Apple only supports DVD-R.

The SuperDrive is, in fact, a DVD-RW/CD-RW, and is fully supported in Mac OS X. To work with a DVD-RW, you first have to format it with Disk Utility, and then you can use it like a DVD-R until you erase it again. Same with CD-RW.

Apple doesn't promote the drive as a DVD-RW, and apparently won't answer to customers later if the DVD-RW format goes nowhere, but it's worth noting that Mac OS X supports the technology and it's fully functional, right out of the box, with a stock Mac with SuperDrive.

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Dennis Sellers

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