Plextor Japan officially announced the PlexWriter Premium2 this morning. Like the original Premium, this new 52/32/52 CD-RW supports many of Plextor's advanced features, including GigaRec, VariRec, Silent-Mode and Q-Check. Most surprising is that the Premium2 supports Yamaha's AudioMASTER technology.

Writing Speeds: 52x, 48x (CAV), 40x, 32x (P-CAV), 20x, 16x, 8x, 4x, 2x (CLV)
ReWriting Speeds: 32x, 24x (P-CAV), 10x, 4x (CLV)
Read Speeds: 50x, 40x, 32x, 24x (CAV), 8x, 4x (CLV)
Supported Formats: CD-DA、 CD-Extra、 CD-ROM Mode-1、 Mix CD、 CD-ROM XA、 Photo-CD、 Video-CD、 CD-I Multi session、 CD TEXT、 UDF
Recording Modes: Track at Once, Disc at Once, Session at Once, Packet Writing, Multi-Session, CD-MRW
Average Access Time: 65ms
Buffer: 8MB
The Premium2 is scheduled to hit the Japanese market at the end of April and will cost about 19,800 Yen ($168US). At this point, we have not heard when the Premium2 will be available in the US. Knowing Plextor America, it will probably be some time before it shows up over here. Additional information, including a full list of specs, can be found on Plextor Japan's website. Add a comment
Bad news for consumers. Digitimes has reported that CMC Magnetics expects the quotes for DVD+R/-R and CD-R discs to increase in the 3Q of this year.
Quotes for DVD+R/-R and CD-R discs will increase slightly in the third quarter, as utilization rates are currently running at 100%, according to Robert Wong, chairman of CMC Magnetics. However, Wong declined to estimate how much prices will rise, as the outcome of an anti-dumping investigation currently being conducted by the European Union (EU) will affect price changes as well.
The article also mentions that quotes will most likely rise again in the 4Q due to a seasonal peak in demand. If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
Plextor America has announced their new series of shock proof portable hard drives. Available in capacities of 80GB and 120GB, these new drives were designed to withstand the knocks and bumps of everyday use.

Plextor Corp., a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance digital media equipment, today announced the immediate availability of the PX-SP family of shock proof, portable hard disk drives (HDD). The external drives are available in two capacities - 80 GB (PX-SP08U) and 120 GB (PX-SP12U). Measuring just 3.33 x 0.74 x 5.51 inches (W/H/D) and weighing less than 8 ounces, these highly portable drive enable users to carry their data with them anywhere, anytime.

PX-SP Series come with a specially designed silicon jacket bumper that helps prevent the unit from crashing if it is accidentally dropped. Compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh personal computers, the PX-SP features a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port interface for a maximum data transmission speed of 480 Mbps. Plextor's retail package comes with everything a user needs to get started, including a portable external hard drive, silicon jacket bumper, Hi-Speed USB 2.0 cable, and quick start guide.
Plextor's shock proof portable hard drives are expected to ship in May 2006. More information can be found on their website. Add a comment
The Taipei Times has an interesting article on HD DVD's digital rights management system, AACS. According to the article, critics of this system are concerned that it has given the entertainment industry too much control over how consumers can use both software and hardware.
AACS uses industrial-strength encryption technology and an elaborate key-based system for authenticating hardware and software.

These keys can be modified at any time, so that if unlicensed players or drives come on to the market, updated keys can be added to new video releases. The new keys could restrict playback to older title releases or even disable a Blu-ray or HD-DVD player by modifying its firmware. But Michael Ayers, a spokesman for AACS LA, says such steps would not be taken lightly: "It couldn't be done unilaterally by one party."

But as Seth Schoen, staff technologist of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www., points out, this system won't help reduce piracy: "The key management system is aimed at preventing people from making unauthorized players, not from making unauthorized copies, and it probably won't prevent file sharing either."
While most CDRLabs readers are probably well aware of these issues, the article is still a good read. If you'd like to check it out, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
InterVideo sent out a press release today, announcing that their WinDVD HD software is being bundled with Toshiba's new HD DVD read laptop, the Qosmio G30.
InterVideo, Inc. (NASDAQ:IVII - News) announced today that InterVideo WinDVD HD(TM) is being bundled with Toshiba Corporation's new Dynabook Qosmio G30/697HS Series Notebook PCs -- the world's first notebook PC with an integrated HD DVD-ROM drive. The new Qosmio G30 will be available throughout Japan in mid-May.

Offering all of the benefits of the high-definition experience without the complexity, InterVideo's WinDVD HD can be used to navigate and play back the crystal-clear, interactive content on HD DVD discs. The universal player also supports all DVD/video/audio in any format, eliminating media compatibility issues. With WinDVD HD, the viewing experience is further enhanced with a mixture of unprecedented audio effects, including Dolby surround sound and DTS(TM)-HD audio support for the highest-quality audio performance available.
If you'd like to read more, InterVideo's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
The DVD+RW Alliance has announced that version 1.0 of the Double Layer DVD+RW specifications have been finalized and are ready to be distributed to licensees. Here's part of their press release:
The DVD+RW Alliance, a voluntary association of industry-leading personal computer, optical storage and consumer electronics manufacturers that support the Plus format for DVD recording, has announced the release of version 1.0 specifications for 2.4X rewriting on Double Layer DVD+RW media by HP, Mitsubishi Kagaku Media/Verbatim, Royal Philips Electronics, Ricoh, Sony Corporation, Thomson Inc. and Yamaha.

DVD+RW media and writers are designed to rewrite up to a full 8.5 GB DVD+RW. The new 2.4X DVD+RW Double Layer discs will be based on new phase-change materials, which enable writing on both the semi-transparent layer 0 and the more reflective layer 1.

Due to its special characteristics, the new DVD+RW Double Layer media will only be read and write compatible with new specially designed recorders and read out devices. The read out reflectivity on both layers of the new media is very low when compared with traditional single layer DVD+RW media. Red laser reflectivity is specified between 5 and 10 percent for the new media and 15 to 20 percent for traditional single layer media.
The DVD+RW Alliance has not announced when Double Layer DVD+RW media will be available, but now that the specifications have been completed, it will only be a matter of time. If you'd like to read more, the entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Sony Japan unveiled its new mid-year PC line-up yesterday. While their Blu-ray Disc-based machines were absent from the list, the company revealed a few details about them.
The Vaio RC300-series machines will include reader/writer Blu-ray Disc drives that support single-layer 25GB discs or double-layer 50GB discs, according to information posted on the U.S. version of its Sony Style Internet shop.

They'll be high performance computers based around an Intel Pentium D dual-core processor and include RAID 0 Serial ATA hard-disk drives, DDR2 (double data rate, second generation) memory and PCI Express x16 graphics. The computers will be based on Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and include Sony's Giga Pocket TV recording software, according to the site.
No word on price or availability yet. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Roxio has announced the release of their new Mac DVD backup software, Popcorn 2. This new version features a number of improvements including the ability to convert videos for play back on the iPod, PSP and other portable video players.
Roxio, a division of Sonic Solutions (NASDAQ: SNIC), the leader in digital media software, today released Popcorn 2, which makes it easy for Mac users to transfer their favorite personal video entertainment to DVDs and portable devices such as an iPod, PSP or mobile phone. These innovations enhance the already highly regarded features for creating backup copies of non-copy protected personal DVDs. Popcorn 2, a Universal application, is available in retail stores across North America and direct at for a suggested price of $49.99. Popcorn 2 is also being simultaneously released in Europe and Asia. Previous owners of Toast and Popcorn may be eligible for special upgrade pricing direct from Roxio.

"To keep pace with the growing demand for portable media devices, the new mobile capabilities of Popcorn 2 provide an excellent solution for those who want the flexibility to enjoy personal video wherever and whenever they choose," said Stan Wong, general manager, Roxio division, Sonic Solutions. "Now consumers can make the most of their players by easily creating mobile-friendly versions of their video."

Popcorn 2 enables users to create portable compatible versions of all popular formats including non-protected DVD-Video, QuickTime movies, MPEG files, iMovie projects and other popular video formats. Popcorn 2 includes predefined settings optimized for standard or high-quality video output, or users can define their own custom DivX, MPEG4, or H.264 levels for bit rate, frame rate, and image size.
Popcorn 2 is available now for a suggested retail price of $49.99. More information is available on Roxio's website. Add a comment
The MPAA has claimed another "victory" in the fight against piracy. Thanks to [H]ard|OCP, we've learned that the courts recently ordered Sunplus to comply to the security features of the CSS license.
The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) today announced that its member companies have successfully resolved yet another breach of contract lawsuit involving non-compliant DVD chips that enable piracy. This is the sixth such lawsuit that has concluded with a court-ordered injunction mandating a DVD chip manufacturer to adhere to the content security features of the CSS license. With the new injunction against Sunplus Technology Co., Inc., the world's second largest DVD chip manufacturer, all of the major DVD chip manufacturers are now bound by court order to honor the CSS license. The studios now plan to focus greater attention on other products, such as DVD players, that may also violate the license and expose copyrighted material to piracy. Investigations have been underway for months, and the studios are considering appropriate enforcement action.
With HD DVD and Blu-ray on the way, the movie industry is making it clear that they do not want companies producing products that can bypass the protection schemes they've put in place. If you'd like to read more, the MPAA's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Atmel has announced the availability of its new ATR0885 laser diode driver IC for use in HD-DVD and Blu-ray players. Here's part of their press release:
Atmel Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML - News), a global leader in the development and fabrication of advanced semiconductor solutions, announced today the availability of its new ATR0885 laser diode driver IC for use in combined HD-DVD/Blu-ray, DVD, CD players and PC CD-ROM drives. HD-DVD and Blu-ray are new disc standards, which will offer significantly more storage capacity than today's DVD standards. Since the new ATR0885 is available in very small packages, it is particularly suitable for small SLIM drives used in notebook computers, as well as for half-height drives used in desktop PCs and consumer DVD players. The ATR0885 is the industry's first available product for such applications and enables outstanding cost-effectiveness, an important factor for high-volume consumer products.
Hopefully this will help lower the cost of HD DVD and Blu-ray players some. If you'd like to read more, Atmel's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment