NEC demonstrates HD-DVD R burning

Company shows off optical disk drive

NEC Corp. is demonstrating at the Cebit trade show in Germany this week a recently developed optical disc drive that can write to HD-DVD discs.

HD-DVD is a new disc format that uses blue lasers to achieve a storage capacity of about three times that of DVD. A single-sided HD-DVD disc can accommodate 15G bytes of data compared to 4.7G bytes on a DVD. It's one of two soon-to-be-launched formats that uses blue lasers. The second, Blu-ray Disc, can store 25G bytes on a single-sided disc but requires a more complex drive mechanism because the disc's physical structure is different than that of DVD and CD.

NEC is demonstrating the drive with media from Mitsubishi Kagaku Media Co. Ltd., which is best known by its Verbatim brand name. The company is shooting high-definition video each morning at the show and burning it onto a disc for playback during the day, said Ryoichi Hayatsu, an NEC storage product division manager, in an interview.

The blank media, which only became available days before Cebit began, is single-sided so can store up to 15G bytes of data. The drive is also compatible with dual-layer discs, which can store 30G bytes. In addition, the drive, called HD-1100, also writes to DVD and CD discs.

NEC is also working on support for rewritable HD-DVD media although the standardization for HD-DVD Rewritable has yet to be completed. That's expected to be finalized in May or June this year, said Hayatsu.

Toshiba Corp. is also showing off its first HD-DVD products at Cebit. One of the products, the Qosmio G30 laptop, was launched at the show and will be the first laptop to include an HD-DVD drive. Qosmio is Toshiba's multimedia PC range and the computer includes a TV tuner and Dolby Home Theater support. Users will be able to watch HD-DVD content on the laptop's screen or on a compatible high-definition monitor or television.

The machine will be available in April in major markets and will cost around €2,000 (US$2,410).

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