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Thursday, August 01, 2002
Pioneer to launch a recordable DVD drive for notebooks!

Pioneer Electronics is aiming to give the recordable DVD and PC markets a boost with a drive for notebooks. The electronics maker expects to launch a recordable DVD drive for notebook PCs in the fourth quarter, according to Andy Parsons, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Pioneer. The drive will read and re-write DVD discs at 2X speed, record CDs at 16X speed and rewrite CDs at 10X speed.

Pioneer has been actively promoting recordable DVD as a feature that could help revitalize the slumping PC market.

"The cycle of replacing PCs every year has pretty much exhausted itself," Parsons said. "We think that digital video is the next frontier for the PC, because it requires a lot of memory, storage capacity and a pretty powerful processor to encode and decode video."

Yet standards are still a hot-button issue in the industry. Computer makers and consumers alike continue to be put off by the battle between the DVD Forum and the DVD+RW Alliance, two groups that are struggling over the creation of a recordable DVD standard.

DVD Forum members--including companies such as Apple Computer, Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp--advocate the DVD-RAM, DVD-R and DVD-RW formats. The DVD+RW Alliance, which includes companies such as Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Philips, has thrown its support behind the DVD+RW format, which also features support for DVD+R.

Parsons said that he expects the DVD Forum to approve a 4X DVD-R spec and a 2X DVD-RW specification next month. Pioneer will introduce products using the specifications by the fourth quarter. Apple, Sony, and Packard Bell NEC in Europe have used Pioneer's DVD-R/RW drive in systems in the past.

IDC analyst Wolfgang Schlichting said that although the new drive might make a splash initially, price will ultimately determine its popularity.

"The impact will likely be limited because of price points," Schlichting said. "Slim devices are usually quite expensive because you have to cram components into such as small space, but it will be good for publicity."

The majority of notebook PCs are found in the corporate world where the ability to record video is not a significant feature; the main battle will be for the home desktop PC, Schlichting said.

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