NEC has launched a faster DVD writer which, it claims, is the first to author both DVD+R and DVD-R rewritable formats at 4x speed. This doubles the previous speed at which DVD+R discs could be written, allowing an hour of DVD video to be burned in about 15 minutes, NEC said.
The MultiSpin ND-1100A drive, announced on Tuesday, claims to be the first to take advantage of the 4x DVD+R specification, released in early August by the DVD+RW Alliance. DVD writers from several manufacturers are already capable of authoring DVD-R discs at 4x.
The drive will be available in the UK from November for about £249, NEC said.
The drive is the latest to attempt to bridge a yawning gap in the DVD authoring industry by supporting both DVD+R/+RW and DVD-R/-RW, two incompatible formats. The existence of the two formats has caused consumer confusion, since users cannot be sure that others will be able to play the discs they have authored.
DVD-R/-RW is supported by the DVD Forum, which created the original DVD specification and includes members such as Hitachi, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, JVC and Sony. DVD+R/+RW, on the other hand, counts many PC, storage and electronics manufacturers as members, including Dell, HP, Sony and Philips. Specifications ending in "R" mean that data that has been written to a disc can not be erased, and specifications ending in "RW" mean that the data can be erased and re-written.
In the absence of a clear format winner, manufacturers such as Sony have begun releasing drives that support both formats. While this adds to the costs of the drives, it may be the best way to ease consumers' reluctance to buy a drive that may become obsolete.
The two rival format associations have been competing to boost the speed at which discs can be authored. This summer the DVD+RW Alliance released specifications for 4x DVD+R, while the DVD Forum released specifications for 4x DVD-R and 2x DVD-RW. The DVD Forum has also recently announced a specification for 3x DVD-RAM (random access memory) that can read, write and erase, much like a normal hard disk. The DVD+RW Alliance in August announced a specification for 4x DVD+RW, but this will not be available until later this year.