HP unveils first DVD+RW drive

Hewlett-Packard unwraps its DVD recorder in the face of approaching competition from two competing standards - DVD-RW and DVD-RAM

The war over DVD recording standards will escalate today when Hewlett-Packard unwraps the details on its first DVD drive for PCs that lets people repeatedly record on DVD discs.

The DVD-writer dvd100i, which will cost £549 when it hits UK store shelves in September, will be the first commercially available drive based on the DVD+RW standard. With it, consumers will be able to record video onto a disc, play it on a typical home DVD player, and then erase and record again on the same disc. HP plans to incorporate the drives into its PCs later this year.

PC makers and consumer-electronics makers are hoping these types of drives will perk up holiday sales, in part, on a theory that consumers will rediscover the home movie. Two years ago, recordable/rewritable CD drives propelled PC sales. Rewritable DVD drives could do the same this year, some industry watchers believe, as well as spur demand for DVD players. DVDs can also hold 4.7GB of data, seven times as much as recordable CDs.

The road to video nirvana, though, is paved with potholes.

The new drive will enter the mess that is the DVD rewritable market. Three competing standards -- DVD+RW, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM -- are vying for market supremacy, confusing compatibility issues and keeping prices high.

"I give HP a lot of credit for building up CD-RW, and they have the potential to do the same with DVD rewritable. But they -- and the rest of the industry -- have to be careful in managing expectations," Dataquest analyst Mary Craig said.

HP, along with Sony and Philips Electronics, developed the CD rewritable format.

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