Pioneer debuts "world's first" DVD-R and RW PC drive

But will re-writeable DVDs aid peer-to-peer movie piracy?

US manufacturer Pioneer announced Tuesday what it claims is the world's first combination DVD recordable and re-recordable drive for PCs.

The device can read and write to DVD-R (write once) DVD-RW (re-recordable), CD-RW and CD-R formats. A double-sided DVD can hold 4.7GB of data on each side, compared to around 650MB for a CD.

Pioneer's drive can also record to DVD-R disks at twice the normal speed, and should ship in the first quarter of 2001.

A DVD-RW disk can be rewritten to at least 1,000 times. DVD-RW is a rival standard to DVD-RAM, which lets a DVD be rewritten at least 100,000 times.

Pioneer's announcement is unlikely to find favour with Hollywood media moguls, who so far has been spared the copyright trauma that hit the music industry.

A digital copy of a whole film, even when compressed by a technology such as DivX, could easily be 600MB, which is too big to feasibly download given today's slow download speeds in the UK. However, once ADSL is finally available, DVD-RW could be a suitable medium for users to save such large files to.

However, the capacity of a DVD fades into insignificance when compared to that of fluorescent multi-layer disc (FMD) technology. UK company Constellation 3D believes it can use FMD to fit 100GB of data onto a single disk -- enough for seven full uncompressed movies.

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