Sony raises the white flag in DVD format war

Sony Corp. has introduced the world's first DVD combo drive that incorporates competing +RW and -RW technologies.

The drive, the DRU500A, is already being offered to consumers on the Sony Style U.S. Web site, although shipping dates for the product are not yet available.

The combo device burns DVD-R/-RW, DVD+RW/+R and CD-R/CD-RW formats. It carries a retail price tag of US$350. It will also ship with Sonics MyDVD Video and Video CD authoring software.

Sony is also warning consumers that disks recorded on the drive may not be compatible for interchange with other DVD systems.

There has been a lot of debate as to which DVD rewritable format will win out in the market. Until now, most manufacturers have chosen to stick with one or the other format. Sony has traditionally stuck by its +RW format, which it developed with the likes of Ricoh and Yamaha, although the company has never ruled out introducing -RW technology into its product lineup.

"I expect both formats to live with each other and they might even merge at one stage," Sony's product manager for optical storage Gordon Kerr said earlier this year.

"There are no (combo) drives out there at the moment, but it may be possible to offer that in the future. In the long term, there is no issue in us adding +RW to a consumer deck."