The internal DRU-700A and external DRX-700UL drives will offer almost double the storage capacity of current, single-sided discs, the company said. The forthcoming devices will let users record up to 8.5GB of data, which translates to 4 hours of video or more than 2,000 songs. They will have a double-layer data-recording speed of 2.4x initially, and also will feature the ability to record using both the "plus" and "dash" formats at high speeds (up to 8x DVD+/-R).
The new offerings are targeted at businesses and at entertainment buffs. Businesses could find the new devices useful for storing training information, while independent filmmakers could create prototypes of their work before committing to mass replication, Sony said.
Double-layer DVD discs are single-sided with two information layers that can be independently recorded to and read from, and both layers can be accessed from the same side of the disc. The internal drive can be installed on a PC, while the external one features connectivity with IEEE 1394 (FireWire) and USB 2.0 interfaces. Software for DVD video authoring and DVD/CD burning will come bundled with both the drives.
The electronics industry has been divided over which dual-layer standard to pursue. The plus camp, championed by the DVD+RW Alliance, is promoting one such technology, and Sony is using the "+R" format for double-layer recording in its new burners. The rival dash camp, which backs the DVD-R and DVD-RW formats, is working on its own double-layer technology.
Overall, the battle between plus and dash formats may not end with a clear victor. Sony, like some other manufacturers, has been at work on recorders that incorporate both technologies.
"As the pioneer of dual format drives, we were the first to address confusion over competing DVD standards; with double layer, we will now satisfy the need for higher capacity," Robert DeMoulin, marketing manager for branded storage products at Sony Electronics, said in a statement.
Sony said it hopes to begin shipping the products by the end of the second quarter. The internal drive will be sold for about US$230, and the external drive for US$330.