Group doubles DVD+R capacity

The group behind the DVD+R/+RW specification said dual-layer recordable discs will hit the market next year, allowing storage of up to 16 hours of recorded video

The DVD+RW Alliance, which includes major PC and consumer electronics makers, last week demonstrated a technique that promises to nearly double storage capacity on DVD+R discs.

At the Ceatec trade show in Japan, the Alliance demonstrated DVD+R discs that comply with the dual-layer DVD-ROM standard, already used with standard pre-recorded discs. The dual-layer format will allow a DVD+R to hold 8.5GB (up from 4.7GB), four hours of video at DVD quality or 16 hours at VHS quality. The dual-layer discs will remain compatible with currrent DVD+R-compatible DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.

The Alliance, whose members include Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Mitsubishi Chemical/Verbatim, Philips, Ricoh, Sony, Thomson and Yamaha, is pushing its own DVD+R/+RW recordable format against DVD-R/-RW, offered by the DVD Forum, the industry consortium that originally developed DVD.

The format war has led to consumer confusion and slowed the adoption of DVD recorders, since the two recordable formats are not compatible. Some manufacturers have attempted to skirt the issue by offering recorders and players that handle both formats.

Final dual-layer DVD+R specifications would be available within the year, with products on the market next year, said the Alliance.

Despite consumer confusion, demand for DVD burners has continued to increase. About three million recordable DVD drives shipped last year, rising to 50 million in 2006, according to projections from IDC.

Recordable DVD sales are being driven by computer makers such as Apple, Sony and Compaq, who are bringing the technology into the mainstream, and by the attractiveness of using DVD to timeshift and archive television programmes, according to IDC.