heise online has reported that the AACS LA has failed to come to agreement concerning the final specs for the new Advanced Access Content System (AACS). According to the article, this delay could push back the release of both HD DVD and Blu-ray products by at least a month.
Last Friday, the meeting of the AACS LA was to resolve the final specifications of the new Advanced Access Content System (AACS). But insiders are reporting that no such agreement was reached. Instead, it is said that an important member of the Blu-ray Disc Association is still voicing concerns about the interaction of AACS and the additional BD+ protection for Blu-ray movies. The next meeting is scheduled for February 23rd and 24th.

Without the AACS specification, the copy protection keys that manufacturers of drives and media need cannot be produced. For instance, manufacturers such as NEC, Pioneer, Samsung, and Toshiba are eagerly awaiting the specifications so they can implement AACS in their equipment.
Let's hope that they can come to some sort of agreement at the next meeting. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
The guys at CD Freaks have put together a review of NEC's new "Super-Multi" drive, the ND-4550A. Here's what they had to say about it:
The NEC ND-4550A being a so called "Multi Recorder" and supports recording on currently available media formats (CD-R/CW, DVD+R/+RW/+R DL and DVD-R/-RW/-RAM/-R DL).

The NEC ND-4550A can write CD-R/RW media with excellent/very good quality, and can write those media types at high speed. DVD±R/RW writing quality is good with most media, and once again the NEC ND-4550A can burn the media fairly quickly.
If you'd like to read more, head on over to CD Freaks and check out their review. Want a second opinion? Our review of the ND-4550A can be found here. Add a comment
Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology (TSST) issued a bulletin on Friday, warning people that some of their older drives are not compatible with the new 6X, 8X, 12X and 16X DVD-RAM2 media. If used, the drive may hang up or eject the media while it is spinning at 1600 rpm.
New DVD format specifications, entitled "DVD-RAM 6X/8X/12X/16X," were recently established by the DVD Forum. Media meeting the new DVD-RAM formats will be available in the near future.

Conventional DVD-RAM discs supported up to 5X speed (Class0: standard writable speed 2X). New DVD-RAM format discs will support 6X, 8X, 12X and 16X speed (Class1: standard writable speed 6X), which could enable faster recording.

It is recommended that you playback or record data on new DVD-RAM format discs with optical disc drives labeled as compatible with such new DVD-RAM format media (such as those bearing the following "RAM2" mark).
Before trying DVD-RAM2 media, I highly recommend checking the list on TSST's website to see if your drive is subject to these issues. Add a comment
Plextor America has officially announced their new 18x DVD±RW, the PX-760A. Here's part of their press release:

Plextor Corp., a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance digital media equipment, today announced the PX-760A DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW drive. The multifunction internal drive is aimed at professionals and power PC users who require reliability, lightning-fast performance, and premium recording features.

The PX-760A is a versatile DVD/CD burner that delivers state-of-the-art recording speeds of 18X DVD±R on certified 16X DVD±R media. Users can burn up to four hours of high-quality MPEG-2/DVD video on a single 8.5 GB disc using 10X DVD+R on Double-Layer media and 6X DVD-R on Dual Layer media. The drive also supports 8X DVD+RW and 6X DVD-RW Rewriting; 16X max DVD-Reading; and 48X CD-R Writing, 24X CD-RW Rewriting, and 48X max CD-Reading. DVD±VR is supported for direct disc recording, while DVD+RW background format eliminates the need to manually format a DVD+RW disc.
The PX-760A is expected to ship in April for suggested retail price of $119.00. More information on Plextor's new drive can be found here. Add a comment
Sony has released some details on their new "Super-Multi" drive, the DRU-820A. This new drive features 16x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD+R DL, 4x DVD-R DL and 5x DVD-RAM writing speeds. Here are some of the drive's specs:

Writing Speeds:

DVD+R: 2.4X, 4X, 6X CLV, 8X ~ 12X P-CAV max., 16X CAV
DVD+RW: 2.4X, 4X, 6X CLV, 8X Z-CLV
DVD+R DL: 2.4X, 4X, 6X CLV, 8X Z-CLV
DVD-RW: 2X, 4X, 6X CLV
DVD-R DL: 2X, 4X
CD-R: 8X ~16X CLV, 32X P-CAV, 40X ~ 48X CAV
CD-RW: 4X ~ 10X CLV, 24X ~ 32X CAV

Read Speeds:

DVD-ROM: 16X Max
CD-ROM: 48X Max

Access Times:

CD-ROM: 135ms
DVD-ROM: 130ms

Buffer Size: 2MB
The DRU-820A is already showing up at Best Buy stores and is reportedly based on the BenQ DW1670. If your local Best Buy store doesn't have the DRU-820A in stock yet, the drive can be purchased through SonyStyle.com for $79.99 after a $20 mail-in rebate. Add a comment
DigiTimes has reported that CMC Magnetics recently invested NT$500 million (US$15.6 million) in Prodisc Technology, making them the largest institutional shareholder. According to the article, the investment will form a strategic alliance between the two companies.
CMC Magnetics, the largest producer of optical discs in Taiwan, on February 10 announced an additional investment of NT$500 million (US$15.6 million) in Prodisc Technology, Taiwan's third largest maker of optical discs, to increase its stake ratio to 11.93%, making it Prodisc's largest institutional shareholder.
What's interesting is that CMC's biggest competitor, Ritek, also has a stake of nearly 5% in Prodisc. If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
Today CDRLabs takes a long overdue look at Plextor's external 16x DVD±RW, the PX-740UF. Based on the BenQ DW1640, this drive is capable of 16x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD+R DL and 4x DVD-R DL writing speeds and a maximum DVD read speed of 16x. The PX-740UF also features 48x CD reading and writing speeds, 32x rewriting speeds andsupport for both FireWire and USB 2.0.

In this review we'll take a look at some of the features found on the PX-740UF and see how it compares to some of the 16x DVD±RW drives from the competition. Does Plextor's external writer have what it takes? You'll have to read the review to find out.

Plextor PX-740UF 16x FireWire/USB 2.0 DVD±RW
If you have any comments or questions about this review or the Plextor PX-740UF, please post them in the forum by clicking the link below. Add a comment
The German website heise online has gotten their hands on Pioneer's upcoming Blu-ray writer, the BDR-101. While AACS wasn't enabled on the drive, they were still able to run a few tests. Translated from German:
Since the read head of the Pioneer BDR-101 works with only one lens, one did without the support of CDs. In the test we could for the first time burn a once recordable Bd-r of TDK. The BD-R blank has a capacity of 22,56 GByte, somewhat more than a again-recordable BD-RE, which comes on 22,23 GByte. The remaining storage location needs the BD-RE for spare substitution of the defect management.

In order to burn an BD-R with 2X (CLV, corresponds to 9 MByte/s) completely, the BDR-101 needed 45:05 min. In addition Pioneer supplied a test computer, on which a special version was installed by Nero 7,0,5,2. The Disc could be read also problem-free with 2X. The average access time to a coincidentally selected sector amounted to 300 ms.

The equipment could likewise describe an DVD-R with 8X (ZCLV) in 10:27 min. The write quality with a TDK blank was throughout good with a small error rate. During the reading of an DVD-R the BDR-101 reached a transfer rate of 8,2 MByte/s with a middle access time of 272 ms. A two-part Dvd-9 was selected with 7,5 MByte/s and 252 ms.
According to the article, Pioneer expects to ship the BDR-101 to their OEM customers by the end of the month. The drive is expected to go for $975 which is almost double that of the Samsung SH-B022. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
Maxell Canada has announced that they've expanded their product lineup to include memory cards and USB flash drives. Here's part of their press release:
Maxell has announced its entry into the memory card and USB flash drive category with a new line that will include Compact Flash, Multi Media, Multimedia Mobile, MiniSD, Secure Digital, and Extra High Speed Secure Digital cards, as well as USB 2.0 flash drives. Capacities will range from 128 MB to 8 GB, depending on the format; and all products will be covered by Maxell's limited lifetime warranty, including the 24/7/365 bilingual technical support line.
If you'd like to read more, Maxell's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Nero has announces that they and Samsung are attempting to bring out the first functional Blu-ray devices. According to their press release, Samsung will be sending out samples of their Blu-ray disc devices along with a special version of Nero 7.
Nero, leaders in digital media technologies, announced today that Samsung is sending out test samples in Europe of its Samsung Blu-ray disc devices together with a special test version of Nero 7 supporting the Blu-ray disc format.

This makes Samsung - and Nero - the first who have brought this technology out of the labs and into the test market. Both companies have thereby established themselves as the leaders in bringing to market the first Blu-ray optical disc technology for storing and managing high definition movies, music, games, photos and more.

Featuring the Nero 7 Blu-ray test version, Samsung's new Blu-ray disc technology - which offers huge storage capacity of up to 25GB in a single layer and 50GB in a dual layer and which reads Blu-ray discs at up to 2x, CDs at up to 40x and DVDs at up to 12x - is being sent out to media reviewers in Europe.
As usual, reviewers in the US and Canada seem to be getting the shaft. In any case, Nero's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment