BenQ has announced that they've added two new external drives to their storage product line. Here's part of their press release:
BenQ, a leading manufacturer of digital lifestyle devices, today announced the expansion of its storage product line with two new external drives that feature a double-layer recording capability. Both the slim-line TW200D DVD+/-RW drive and EW16GA 16x DVD re-writer are designed for portability for on-the-go professionals.

To maximize convenience, the TW200D's slim and lightweight design enables easy portability, and provides the space-saving flexibility of being placed or stored either vertically or horizontally. The TW200D offers 24x CD-ROM and 8x DVD-ROM read speeds as well as 2.4x DVD+R double layer, 8x/4x DVD+R/RW, 8x/4x DVD-R/RW and 24x CD-R/RW write speeds. The unit weighs approximately 14.5 ounces (410 grams), and the casing dimensions are 5.5" (wide) x 0.85" (height) x 6.2" (deep).

The EW16GA provides 48x CD-ROM and 16x DVD-ROM read speeds as well as 8x/4x DVD+R/-R double layer, 16x/8x DVD+R/RW, 16x/6x DVD-R/RW and 48x/32x CD-R/RW write speeds. The unit weighs approximately 3.35 lbs. (1.52 kilograms), and the casing dimensions are 6.7" (wide) x 2.4" (height) x 9.5" (deep).
The TW200D and EW16GA are expected to ship in March and will cost $299 and $249 respectively. More information on both drives can be found here. Add a comment
The Blu-ray Disc Association has announced that the specifications for the Blu-ray Disc format are now complete.
The Blu-ray Disc Association announced today that the format specification is complete and that licensing is ready to begin for BD-ROM, BD-RE and BD-R. The completion of the specification now enables content providers and manufacturers to begin the process of producing Blu-ray Disc products for a wide variety of uses.

The Blu-ray Disc Association approved these specifications on January 2, 2006. Licensing of the BD-R and BD-RE 2.0 specifications began December 26, 2005. Specifications have been approved for the Blu-ray Disc single (25GB) and dual (50GB) layer specifications.
Wow.. and just in time for CES. If you'd like to read more, the entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Verbatim also announced a new Mini DVD+R Double-Layer (DL) disc. Measuring only 8cm in diameter, these discs can hold up to 2.66 GB of data or 60 minutes worth of DVD quality video.
Verbatim Corporation, a pioneer in developing advanced DVD and Double Layer technologies, announced today a new Mini DVD+R Double-Layer (DL) disc. Measuring only three inches (8cm) in diameter, the new discs provide a full hour of continuous video capture time on a single side or 2.66GB of storage capacity--almost twice the capacity of current mini DVDR discs. Three-packs of Verbatim Mini DVD+R DL media will be available in the spring of 2006, when the new Mini +R DL-compatible camcorders are launched. The media can also be recorded with drives supporting the +R DL format.
No word on price yet. However, Verbatim expects to ship the discs in the spring of 2006. If you'd like to read more, Verbatim's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Verbatim has announced that they've added 16x DVD-R discs to their line of LightScribe media. The company also plans to roll out media capable of faster printing speeds as well as discs with colored backgrounds.
Extending its leadership in offering the widest range of premium-quality LightScribe media, Verbatim Corporation announced today its new LightScribe 16x DVD-R media in 30-pack spindles. Verbatim, which already offers LightScribe CD-R and DVD+R media in 10-pack spindles, 20-pack slim cases and 30-pack spindles, will begin shipping the new LightScribe 4.7GB/120-minute DVD-R media in Q1 2006. The company also is preparing to roll out LightScribe gold-background CDs and DVDs with a new coating that enables faster label printing, as well as color-background LightScribe CDs/DVDs in Q2. Engineering samples of the new LightScribe media are being showcased this week during CES in Las Vegas at Verbatim's Booth #36049, South Hall 4.
Verbatim's LightScribe 16x DVD-R discs and higher-speed media will be available in Q1 2006 with an estimated street price of $39.99 for a 30-pack spindle. More information can be found here. Add a comment
According to DigiTimes, Lite-On plans to develope a "Super-Multi" drive with a maximum DVD-RAM writing speed of 16x. If things go as planned, production could start as early as the 3Q of 2006.
The burning (writing) speeds of RAM currently range from 1x to 5x with LG showcasing Super Multi DVD burners with a RAM speed of 12x at the ongoing CES (Consumer Electronics Show), Lite-On IT noted. Lite-On IT plans to skip 12x and develop the maximum 16x speed for the RAM format, the company emphasized.
The article also mentions that Lite-On is working to increasing the writing speeds for LightScribe and DVD+R/R DL media. If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
CDRLabs kicks off the new year with a review of NEC's first "Super-Multi" drive, the ND-4550A. Featuring some of the fastest reading and writing speeds available, the drive is capable of 16x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD+R DL and 6x DVD-R DL writing speeds and has a maximum DVD read speed of 16x. Staying true to the "Super-Multi" specifications, the ND-4550A can also read and write to DVD-RAM media at 5x.

In this review we'll take a look at some of the features found on the ND-4550A and see how it compares to some of the 16x DVD±RW drives from the competition. Does NEC's new "Super-Multi" drive have what it takes? You'll have to read the review to find out.

NEC ND-4550A Super-Multi DVD±RW/RAM
As usual, if you have any comments or questions about this review or the NEC ND-4550A, please post them in the forum by clicking the link below. Add a comment
Sony debuted a number of new Blu-ray Disc based products at CES this week. Along with their first Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-S1, Sony unveiled a pair of aftermarket computer drives and announced plans for recordable BD-R and BD-RE media.
Sony's first Blu-ray Disc home player, model BDP-S1, will be available in early summer and features 1080p full HD video output for brilliant HD imagery and also DVD upscaling to 1080p. This initial BD player features a sophisticated design and exceptional build quality with rigid beam construction as well as finely tuned audio and video parts and circuits...

...Sony also announced that a Blu-ray Disc aftermarket drive for personal computers is also expected to be available this year, and will support 25GB/50GB BD-R/RE discs, as well as DVD+R/+RW, and CD-R/RW recordable media. This drive will be bundled with consumer-level BD recording software and accessories for creation of High-Definition home video and data Blu-ray Discs.

Beginning in the spring, Sony will begin selling a 25GB single layer BD-R and the BD-RE recording media. Dual layer 50GB capacity recordable media will follow in the subsequent months. Recordable Blu-ray Discs utilize Sony's AccuCORE technology offering superb archival and reliability, scratch guard protection and temperature durability.
While there isn't a lot of information on Sony's new Blu-ray drives, the Japanese website, AV Watch, does have a few pictures of them. As we find out more, we'll let you know. In the mean time, Sony's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
BenQ has announced their new line of LightScribe CD-R and DVD+R media. Here's part of their press release.
BenQ, a leading manufacturer of digital lifestyle devices, today announced a new line of CDR LightScribe and DVDR media. The maximum-speed 52x CDR LightScribe media supports the LightScribe direct-disc-labeling technology that burns text and graphics on the surface of the CD, offers a data capacity of 700MB / 80 minutes, and comes in quantities of 25.

The DVDR media comes in three variations: DVD+R versions of both the designer and BenQ-branded discs. BenQ's 16x-speed DVDR Designer Collection features stylish designs on the discs, including images of movie film and director clip designs, and provides 4.7GB data capacity. The Designer Collection packs come in quantities of 25. The high-performance 16x-speed BenQ-branded media offers 4.7GB data capacity and comes in packs of 25.
I'm not really sure what's up with BenQ's Designer Collection. I thought the whole point of LightScribe was so that you can create your own designs. In any case, BenQ's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
It looks like Microsoft has changed their minds about the Xbox 360 supporting HD DVD. Microsoft's chairman, the infamous Bill Gates, announced that the company will be offering an external HD DVD drive for their new console.
Bill Gates had previously stated that HD-DVD could be supported by Xbox 360 at some point, leading to speculation that an updated version of the console itself, with a built-in HD-DVD drive, could be on the cards.

However, Microsoft said late last year that no such update was being planned - and now it seems that the firm has opted for an external drive instead, following to some degree in the footsteps of products like Sega's MegaCD and Nintendo's 64DD.

Little detail about the new drive has been revealed, but it remains likely that it will only be designed to play back HD-DVD movie content, and will not be used for videogames content, as Xbox Japan boss Yoshihiro Maruyama hinted last year. Releasing HD-DVD games would force users to buy the peripheral before they could play the titles.
I really don't see Microsoft putting a HD-DVD into the Xbox 360 quite yet. HD-DVD drives are still quite expensive and would increase the Xbox 360's already sizable price tag. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Here's an interesting bit of news. According to DigiTimes, Philips BenQ Digital Storage (PBDS) has received orders for DVD-ROM drive modules to be used in the Xbox 360.
Philips BenQ Digital Storage (PBDS), a joint venture between BenQ and Royal Philips Electronics, has obtained OEM orders for DVD-ROM drive modules to be used in Microsoft's Xbox 360 with shipments to begin this month, according to industry sources. BenQ, however, declined to comment on the report, citing customer confidentiality.
If you'd like to read the entire article, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment