- The Background Info
Without any doubt, CeBIT 2002 was one of the most major IT shows. Even if
the number of the participating companies was less by 150 compared to the last
year's show, still many new ideas and information about the future was available.
In this article we give a general idea of what we saw in the show and we will
also present what's new in the optical storage for this year. Cya next year!
DVD Format - Page 1
The most popular question this year was about the DVD format. Which format
will be established? Is it the DVD-R or the DVD+R? What about the DVD-RW or
the DVD+RW? What about DVD-RAM? For sure no one really knows the answer. We
asked the same question numerous of times, we were asked the same question so
many other times but the same answer always came up... "Time will show
the final winner".
Without any doubt, the DVD+RW alliance promoted heavily the DVD+RW format what
was mentioned in every conversation was that the members of the DVD+RW format
are really capable enough to strongly promote their stand. Companies like Compaq,
HP and Dell have the power to support a certain format for the PC but the final
prices will be an issue for the possible customer.
The DVD+RW alliance was very satisfied when Microsoft decided to natively support
it within WinXP and in the future operating systems. Microsoft plans to include
DVD recording software inside future OS system, since the DVD market is expected
to boom in the next few years.
As it current stands, the new DVD+R/RW drives will cost around 700 Euro, when
the Pioneer DVR-A04 will cost "only" 600 Euros. The DVD+R media is
expected to cost around 10-12 Euros and the DVD+RW media around 17 Euro.
On the other hand, DVD-R media can be now bough at even less than 4 Euros,
and has "proven" the highest compatibility with DVD desktop systems.
Pioneer announced further reduction of DVD-R/RW prices down to $6 and $10 respectively
for their branded media and shortly re-manufacturers will follow.
The DVD+RW alliance claims that the DVD+R will offer the same or even higher
compatibility as the DVD-R media (up to 100%). Could this be true? We will have
to wait and see. As it currently stands, the DVD+RW media offer a compatibility
of 40-50% (despite the fact that the DVD+RW alliance says around 70%) with desktop
Of course the DVD+R/RW drives will be faster in both writing/re-writing speeds
(2.4x) instead of 2x DVD-R and 1x DVD-RW of Pioneer DVR-A04. Again we believe
that many tests will be needed to prove which format is more compatible with
the DVD desktop players.
2. DVD Format - Page 2
CeBIT 2002 - The Background Info
DVD Format - Page 2
The race will continue as soon as Panasonic and Sanyo release their DVD-R drives
around June time frame. Both drives are supposed to be Super DVD combo recorders
(Panasonic LF-521: 3x writing DVD-R/RAM, 12/10/32 CD-RW and 1x DVD-RW, while
the Sanyo DVR-DV1 will support 4x DVD-R, 24/12/40x and later around September,
2x DVD-RW). Other manufacturers are expected to come up with the 4x DVD-R speed
(and probably 2x DVD-RW) later in September. There are also some other companies
that have decided to support both formats.
In the DVD+RW conference during the CeBIT 2002 show, Sony stated (making other
companies freeze!), that will support both DVD-R/DVD+R formats with a new drive,
by the end of this year. We may also see some other manufacturers supporting
both formats with dual drives, something that the most of the users are expecting.
The problem here would be the technical issues of the implementation of both
formats and again the price. If Sony's drive can work smoothly with both formats
and offer a reasonable price, it will be a very good solution.
Sanyo is another company that will support both formats (DVD-R/DVD+R) but with
two separate products. The DVD-R drive is supposed to come this June, while
the DVD+RW drive will be available in the end of 2002.
Both Panasonic and Sanyo DVD-R drives will be faster than the DVD+R/RW drives.
What happens next?
For sure new series of faster DVD+R/RW drives will come out (up to 4x). So
a new writing race for the DVD format starts? Possibly
Of course this
will bring users, faster and cheaper DVD recorders.
One advantage that DVD+RW format includes is the defect management system.
For now, only the DVD-RAM format supports such an option that will prevent loss
of important data. The already known Mt. Rainier will pass eventually to the
DVD+RW format, making it stronger compared to the DVD-RW.
The companies that still haven't joined any DVD recording format are waiting
for the confusion to clear. We heard some expressions of "...We must be
upon the winners not the losers side
" from well known CD-RW manufacturer.
3. DVD Format - Page 3
- The Background Info
DVD Format - Page 3
Of course companies like Panasonic, Toshiba will continue supporting the DVD-RAM
format, but it's already known that the DVD-RAM has the worst compatibility
among the DVD recording formats with desktop DVD players. Hitachi in the new
(and hopefully improved) DVD Camcorder supports both DVD-R/DVD-RAM formats (8cm).
You may don't know but there isn't really any DVD specification for higher
than 1x DVD recording format (for DVD-R/RW formats). The increased writing speeds
of 4x DVD-R and 2x DVD-RW are now discussed in the DVD Forum and are expected
to be finalized until Q3 of 2002.
Another issue is the recordable DVD media. We talked with many DVD-R media
manufacturers and so far no one believes that we can have 4x certified DVD-R
media by June. They admit that they can manufacture 3x media but the 4x is another
story. Mitsui was probably the only manufacturer that promised to support 4x.
Pioneer, as a media manufacturer, didn't say anything about 4x DVD-R media,
but probably will have something ready by that time.
There were also a lot of taking about the "Blue Ray" technology,
which promises even higher capacity with of course different laser diodes and
new media. You shouldn't start dreaming of such a system soon at your home,
since the most of the companies plan to ship a blue ray drive somewhere around
the end of 2003-early 2004. The DVD recording gradually will take its place
among the daily use but of course CD writing will also be present.
Toshiba was the only company that presented an alternative to the "Blue
Ray" consortium making things even more complicated. So we have a member
of DVD Forum (Toshiba) against nine (9) companies that want to promote the "Blue
Ray". Even now inside the "Blue Ray" there are three different
"formats". We have heard about 23.3GB, 25GB and even 27GB different
Toshiba promises capacities of 30GB with the use of Blue Laser and even up
to 110GB with Dual Side/Dual Layer discs. So will this be another confusing
issue just like in the DVD format? We hope not. We assume that companies have
realized the confusion between users among the DVD recording formats and will
try to co-ordinate at only ONE format.
Even if the "Blue Ray" format promises such a high capacities, for
now there aren't any thoughts for PC (Data) use. The main propose will be the
HDTV applications, which are also promised from time to time. There will be
a lot of talk about copy protection (like what happened with DVD format) and
this time probably would be higher secured. Also, the cost of the blue laser
drives is much higher than the CD and DVD recorders even up to 1000% times.
This means that a Blue Laser recorder will cost like 50.000$, when a DVD recorder
costs 600$. Different optics, different media, do make the difference.
Multi-Level (ML) recording technology from Calimetrics is also an interesting
issue. Without any doubt this technology can shift up the media capacity levels
without major differences in changing the lasers and the whole system design.
Most of the people we talked about ML, came up with the same conclusion "Multi-Level
is a great idea for the DVD format".
4. CD Format - Page 1
- The Background Info
CD Format - Page 1
What about the ML implementation in the CD format? Already "too
late" was the answer we heard many times. If the technology was ready like
2 years ago, things would be much different today. Remember that Multi-Level
discs are not backward compatible with the normal DVD/CD-ROMs. To write to the
2.3GB discs, you will need new CD-RW and of course ML compatible discs. This
format seems to offer increased capacity in a slightly higher cost than the
existing CD-R media, but the issue here is again what is always: "Backwards
compatibility". You may remember "Double Density" (DD) format
from Sony/Philips that could fit up to 1.3GB to a 12cm disc. We do wonder if
Sony has sold even one of those drives in public
In the last year's CeBIT we were assured that ML recorders would be out in
September of 2001. It's already March of 2002 and there is no sign of them.
Actually we did witness a working unit of TDK's ML recorder (with the PLEXTOR
PX-ML3630) with the latest Sanyo's latest IC chipset. So when will a ML (Multi-Level)
recorder come from TDK (actual manufacturer Plextor)? Never.
TDK's marketing manager said "
TDK has decided NOT to introduce a
CD-based ML writer. We used CeBIT to demonstrate the technology progress we
made with ML and we are now 'shifting gears' to implement ML in future optical
storage platforms such as DVD or blue laser recording. However, the Sanyo produced
chips are now available to other drive vendors for implementation
On the recording speed, as it seems the 48x recording speed will be the upper
limit as most manufacturers agreed. There is no need for higher recording speeds,
since there are already problems with the produced level noise and of course
the already known media problems. You should expect to see new 48x (Zone-CLV)
drives around May-June from the well-known companies.
There might be a pleasant surprise from Yamaha, the only manufacturer that
uses CAV recording technology, for their next generation recorder. As we "heard"
there will be either a full CAV or a P-CAV recorder that will be faster than
the current and possibly the upcoming 48x recorders.
Yamaha's new generation recorders will support the new "printing"
technology, which can print logos, text in the unused space of CDs. Yamaha may
have another few new features for their new recorder, but we will have to wait
until May to find out.
Other manufacturers are trying to push more the re-writing speed limit, up
to 16x. CyberDrive will be the first one that will support such a high re-writing
speed with the use of new media. Such speeds are not supported from the HS-RW
standard, so we may experience compatibility issues with CD/DVD-ROMs.
The good news is that Philips and other companies are already talking about
a new specification that will support up to 32x re-writing speeds, with backwards
compatibility. When this standard will be finalized, we may see recorders like
5. CD Format - Page 2
- The Background Info
CD Format - Page 2
Another big issue was the Mt. Rainier format. Yamaha was the first ever manufacturer
that introduced Mt. Rainier format for the CRW3200 series. Till now Microsoft
has not supported the "Mt. Rainier" format within WinXP or other operating
system making things a little harder for the end users. There was a lot of talk
about which software was Mt. Rainier ready and which drives are/or not Mt. Rainier
Mitsumi and SAI (Software Architects) claimed that the CR-480ATE and the Write
CD-RW! Solution is the only close to the Mt. Rainier v1.1 specification. Yamaha's
CRW3200 got a "CeBIT 2002 award" for supporting Mt. Rainier and on
the other corner was Philips with the "EasyWrite" format. What's really
It seems that even if the Mt. Rainier is listed as a supported feature from
various manufacturers; there are still several issues for their drives. The
Mt. Rainier format includes new features such as the background formatting,
2k addressing and of course data defect management. The Mt. Rainier compatible
drives must be able to "multi-thread" such tasks, transparent to user.
Philips proposed a new way to certificate Mt. Rainier compliant drives with
the "Easy Write" logo. The use of special diagnostic software/test
discs will make sure that the drives will fully support the Mt. Rainier format.
Philips claimed that their upcoming drives will support the "Easy Write"
logo, which means a 100% support of the Mt. Rainier format.
The Mt. Rainier seems to be very important for big vendors like Compaq or HP.
We may see those companies eliminating the floppy disc usage in near future,
and adopting a fully Mt. Rainier compatible drive. For sure, there will be a
big fight between manufacturers that supply OEM drives to those companies. LiteOn
had some big contracts with Dell. Till now even their 40x recorder doesn't support
Mt. Rainier, despite the fact that it was initially announced. Of course not
many manufacturers support Mt. Rainier, but eventually most of them (?) will.
6. CD Format - Page 3
- The Background Info
CD Format - Page 3
The notebook users will be very happy from the news that many manufacturers
are preparing faster DVD-ROM, DVD/CD-RW and even DVD-R recorders for their portable
PC. TEAC and few others presented a new slim-line series of 24x/10x/24x CD-RW
drives. Panasonic plans to ship also many new models for the notebook users
from combo DVD/CD-RW drives ,with slot-in option, and up to DVD-R/RAM slim-line
Of course there will be more new external portable drives. LG announced an
external slim-line drive that supports 24x/10x/24x and 8x (DVD) reading speeds.
ASUS has another proposal of 16x/8x/24x and 8x (DVD) with both USB 2.0/FireWire
interfaces and maybe an MP3 playback option.
The majority of the external portable recorders will support only the USB2.0
interface. As it seems FireWire gets less support. However FireWire still holds
strong in the DV camera area, since FireWire supports Copy protection management,
that USB 2.0 doesn't.
The most known optical storage device (CD-ROM) seems that will stop being manufactured
and by the middle of next year will stop selling. The DVD slowly but steady
overpasses the CD format. Most manufacturers agreed that faster reading speeds
than 16x (for DVD) can be achieved but the noise would be higher. Affreey plans
to ship a 25x DVD/100x CD-ROM drive, somewhere inside 2002, but so far we do
not have an official announcement.
7. CD Format - Page 4
- The Background Info
CD Format - Page 4
Something really interesting was the announcement of a new CD called "flexCD".
As the word says, it is about a new ultra slim CD media line with a very flexible
structure. Sonopress, a company that manufactures the most of your pressed discs,
presented for the first time this new product that will boost the use of CD
in every product you are currently buying. For user to read it would be needed
a special plastic adaptor, that will be available for free. As Sonopress told
us, the first batches of "flexCD" will come out from September/October
2002. Companies that may be interested to use such CDs, would have to make orders
of higher than 100.000 pieces. In the future, Sonopress will accept fewer orders
for everyone who wishes to use their new technology.
Lastly, we had some talk with Philips about the protected AudioCDs. Their general
comments were upon the same line of the official Philips line. That Audio discs
that are not compliant with the "CD standards" should not have the
"Compact Disc" logo. Philips does plan to inform the various CD protection
makers about this issue, but as they told us they do not plan to take any legal
"The issue is not that user cannot copy the protected AudioCD at his PC,
but the fact that most users cannot playback those CDs in their high-end systems
or at their car. Users complain about this and they believe it's a fault of
the hardware (CD player), while the problem lye upon the inserted CD" commented
one of the Philips spokesman. Let's hope that in the future Audio discs will
compliant to the official CD standards to have less in-compatibility problems.
- The Background Info
New software came up during the CeBIT 2002 show. Ahead (makers of Nero), presented
two new software named "Nero Vision Express" and "Nero Express".
The first one is actually an authoring software for VCD/SVCD/DVD formats pretty
simple, that plans to compete Sonic's MyDVD and NeoDVD, bulked with many DVD+RW
We had the chance to see an early beta version of it during the CeBIT show
and it looked very promising. We will have to wait and see how the final version
Nero Express is another new "toy" mainly focused for OEM use. The
idea is to make the software as much simpler as it can be, without loosing the
important features of Nero.
On the other side, Roxio was supposed to present their new DVD recording suite
with the codename "Hitchok". However this product never appeared in
the CeBIT show, since we he "heard" some bugs came up just before
shipping. Let's hope that the final product would be more stable.
Since Roxio has bought MGI, in their booth you could find the new VideoWave
5 and other MGI software. Also as we heard, WinOnCD will continue developing
since Roxio feels that WinOnCD has a strong base, at least in Europe. Lastly,
VideoPack 5.0 was also demonstrated, (hopefully soon we will have a review for
Vob was another software vendor that showed a new version of InstantCD/DVD
up to v6.4. This new version didn't support any major new features ,apart from
a Virtual CD-ROM emulator called InstantDrive and several other features. Vob
plans to add DVD authoring suite till summer and as we heard, plans also to
introduce a new version of their "ProtectCD" anti-piracy solution.
They did mention that CloneCD wouldn't be able to "backup" the new
protection builds, but we will have to see about this when the first protected
titles come up.
BHA's booth was small enough but had a few surprises. BHA's GOLD v5.0 is planned
to ship soon with many new features and another DVD authoring solution with
the name "Bs DVD" will also follow.
Lastly, we had the chance to test a beta version of the most famous CD software
replicator with the name "CloneCD". Talking with Olli and the rest
of the CloneCD team was very interesting and we enjoyed a lot. Apart from the
new v4.x version, Olli plans to introduce completely new software for "CD-Mastering"
use. This could be the end of traditional CDR software (Nero, Ez CD Creator)?
Olli plans to have limited mastering features (for example no support of CD-Text),
and wants to give his software the "intelligence" to take decisions
for you. Of course there are more interesting plans for the future (about DVD),
but we promised not to publicize them :-)