Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., better known by its Panasonic brand name, has taken the wraps off a prototype internal DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) Multi drive that boasts read and write compatibility with all DVD Forum standards. The new drive, which the company expects to begin releasing in sample quantities in January, can read and write to CD-R (Recordable), CD-RW (Rewritable), DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM discs and also play DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio and CD-ROM discs.
The multi-drive extends a trend that started around a year ago with the appearance of CD Combo drives that support both CD-R and CD-RW. In addition to supporting those formats, the new drive adds support for writable and rewritable DVD formats and is being positioned by Matsushita as a migration product that provides users with support for the new writable DVD formats while retaining support for writable CD.
"Recently, personal computers have been becoming very thin and some major computer makers have only been providing room for one slot," said Ted Sugano, manager of Matsushita's storage device business planning group. "Recordable CD and CD-RW drives are now becoming standard in these PCs so that kind of case requires an all-in-one drive." Matsushita plans to sell the device under its own brand name and also direct to personal computer makers. Consumers can expect to see boxed versions of the drive in retail stores from April or May at a price around US$500, said Sugano.