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 DVD-RAM Drive Capacity Leaps

Next-generation technology boosts storage capacity to 9.4GB in upcoming Panasonic drives.
Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

If today's CD-ROM disc capacity of 650MB is too meager for your storage needs, you might watch for some upcoming drives from Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Company. It promises a whopping 9.4GB of storage on a double-sided disc.

The company plans to launch this summer a line of high-capacity drives under its Panasonic brand. The products are based on a second-generation version of the DVD-RAM format.

The DVD-RAM technology is still battling for market acceptance against increasingly popular CD-Recordable and CD-Rewritable drives. The company hopes a new consumer video optical disc recorder arriving in June and two new drives for the PC arriving in July will turn the tide.

First-generation DVD-RAM discs are capable of holding 2.6GB of data per side to give a maximum capacity of 5.2GB on a double-sided disc. The second-generation format extends this to 4.7GB of storage per side to produce a maximum capacity of 9.4GB per disc. However, Panasonic will initially produce only single-sided discs.

First Home, Then PC

On June 10, the company expects to launch its consumer video recorder based on the DVD-RAM format. Although intended as a future replacement to the conventional tape-based VCR, the new recorder will carry an estimated price of about $2283, which will push it well out of the reach of most consumers.

In July, the company will begin selling internal and external drives for computer use. The external model will go on sale July 10 for about $684. On July 25, an internal version is scheduled to become available, priced at about $580. At those prices, they come in slightly cheaper than the recommended retail price of the company's existing first generation DVD-RAM drives.

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