DVD Recording: New format wars are on the horizon

DVD-ROM’s recording technology has been growing for some time on three formats; DVD-RAM, DVD+RW and DVD-RW. The formats, while incompatible have not caused real problems in the past. But as home entertainment recorders are nearing public consumption, the battle for a unified format has begun.

On Tuesday, Panasonic announced an October release of the companies new stand-alone home entertainment recorder that will sell for around $1000.00. Hitachi, JVC, Toshiba, and Samsung plan to have similar recorders on the market soon thereafter. The new affordability will likely bring recording into many households for the first time along with the DVD-RAM discs the recorders support. Although the DVD-RAM format can hold as much as a single-sided double layered DVD, the discs are not readable on standard DVD players and can only be played back on DVD-RAM compatible recorders.

Other companies including Hewlett-Packard, Philips Electronics, Sony Corp, and Dell Computer are setting up camp around the DVD+RW format,set to hit the market in the fall. Unlike DVD-RAM, DVD+RW will be compatible with most current DVD players. Recorders of the DVD+RW format are not likely to come as standalone players, but as components of the increasinly multimedia-friendly computing systems available from the companies. Dell has already adopted the standard for its future computing systems.

Of course, Pioneer has already released high end recorders to industry using the third DVD-RW format. The company is likely to keep with the format when its consumer based recorders hit the market. The DVD-RW format is also getting backing from the computing end of the spectrum with support from Apple, Compaq and Sony who is experimenting with both the DVD-RW and DVD+RW formats.

With DiVX a distant terrible nightmare, and the DVD-Audio format finally getting hammered out, it was probably inevitable that more standards wrangling was bound to strike. Until some format stability is reached for DVD recording, it may be wise to hold off on that purchase.

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