HP introduces first DVD+RW drive

Rivaling DVD-RW (Digital Versatile Disc) and DVD-RAM drives already available, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) said Monday its first DVD+RW drive will be in stores on Sept. 1.

The DVD-writer dvd100i, priced at US$599 in the U.S., 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 of data. Content can also be overwritten so the disc can be reused, HP said in a statement.

According to HP Australia, the writer will not be available here for another month and will retail for $A1199.

The dvd100i records in the DVD format at 2.4x speed and reads at 8x speed. Maximum CD-R writing speed is 12x, rewriting 10x and reading 32x, according to HP. 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.

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.

DVD+RW is compatible with home DVD players, allows data as well as DVD recording and is praised by proponents for its built-in defect management. Backers of DVD+RW, besides HP, include Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, Sony Corp., Yamaha Corp., Thomson Multimedia SA and Dell Computer Corp.

DVD-RW, developed by Pioneer Corp., is technically inferior, according to the DVD+RW camp. DVD-RW doesn't include the defect management and is said to be less usable for data files. DVD-RW is compatible with DVD players. Compaq Computer Corp. is one of the companies that sells drives based on the technology. DVD-RAM has Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. as its main backer. CDs are packed in a cartridge and as such can't be played back in existing DVD players or drives. However, Matsushita's recently combined DVD-RAM and DVD-R (write once) technology into one US$600 device -- the Panasonic DVDBurner. DVD-R is backwards compatible. HP will sell its DVD+RW dvd100i drive in the U.S. and in Europe. The company will also sell media for the device at $15.99 per disc. Discs for DVD-RAM devices are sold for about $24 and DVD-RW media costs about $18

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