The availability of products compatible with multiple DVD formats is increasing. At World PC Expo last week, the latest DVD multi-drives were unveiled by Matsushita Electric Industrial, Samsung Electronics and Teac.
DVD Multi is a standard that offers compatibility between three DVD formats, DVD-R (recordable), DVD-RW (DVD-rewritable) and DVD-RAM, all of which are supported by the DVD Forum. It is a drive or a player that can either write and read or read these formats.
Matsushita, best known for its brand name Panasonic, and Teac are planning to release internal and external models of DVD multi-drives. Each company's drive has similar technical specifications. Samsung, which plans to roll out its first internal drive, is also developing a faster drive.
Matsushita's latest internal LF-D521JD multi-drive is expected to be included in PCs and its external LF-D60J is to be launched by the end of this year in Japan, said Mason Yamamoto, a representative at the storage products business unit of Matsushita's subsidiary, Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries. The products can write DVD-RAM at 2x speed, DVD-R at 2x, DVD-RW at 1x, CD-R at up to 12x and CD-RW at 8x.
The company plans to ship worldwide a thinner model of the same drive for notebook PCs at the same time.
Teac offers the internal DV-W22E multi-drive to PC makers for inclusion in their products and plans to release the external DW-227PU multi-drive, both by the end of this year. The DW-227PU will be mainly for the Japanese market, Teac's Hiroaki Sasagawa said.
Samsung has two launch plans for its internal SR-R03 multi-drive. If the company decides to release the drive with the current write speed, which is the same as Matsushita's and Teac's, it hopes to launch the product within this year internationally, said Ryang-I Park, a representative of the marketing team at Samsung Japan.
It is working to increase the write speed of the SR-R03 to 4x and may put the SR-R03 launch on hold until demand for 4x write speed drives increases, Park said.
Originally, the industry targeted the DVD-RAM format at PC users, Matsushita's Yamamoto said. DVD-RAM comes with a cartridge and can be rewritten about 100,000 times, or 100 times more than DVD-RW, he said. Therefore, the industry expected that it would attract those who repeatedly need to back up data.
But DVD video recorders with a hard disk drive have sold well in Japan and now the multi-drive is targeted mainly for those who record video on DVD-RAM and edit it with a PC, Yamamoto said.
"Some of our clients say that they plan to adopt the multi-drive in all of their high-end models immediately. Others say they hope to include the drive in half of their new PC line-up by the second quarter next year," Yamamoto said.
Other companies, which support the DVD-RAM format and development of the DVD Multi standard, include Hitachi-LG Data Storage and Toshiba. Hitachi-LG, a joint venture of Hitachi and South Korea's LG Electronics, released one of the first multi-drives earlier this year.
Since the DVD Multi market is becoming more competitive, prices will begin to fall soon, predicted Samsung Japan senior manager Sung-Ha Im.
Two other formats in the market are DVD+R and DVD+RW, which are supported by the DVD+RW Alliance.