Sony Ushers in Double-Layer DVD Burners

Sony announces internal and external versions of a DVD drive that supports dual-layer media.

Sony Electronics is looking to heat up the DVD recording arena. The company is adding two DVD+R Double Layer (DL) DVD drives to its line of Dual RW burners. An internal DRU-700A drive and an external DRX-700UL drive represent the companys move into double-layer recording.

The new burners and accompanying compatible discs promise to almost double the storage capacity of recordable DVD discs. Users will be able to store four hours of MPEG-2 video or up to 8.5GB of multimedia data on a single disc. Sony officials say the initial burners will have 2.4x DVD+R recording speeds, 40x CD-R speeds, and 24x CD-RW recording speeds.

"Double-layer recording is the next milestone in DVD technology," says Wolfgang Schlichting, research director for removable storage at the market research firm IDC. "Sonys double-layer drives put twice the recording power in the hands of the consumer, reducing the need to handle multiple discs."

The double-layer drives will let consumers store more than 2,000 songs, enough for over four days of continuous music, on a single disc, claims Sony. The company also expects the increased capacity to be important to companies storing training videos and information on DVD discs, and for independent filmmakers who want to put their work and promotional material on a single disc.

Two full-length films could conceivably fit on one DL disc. This higher capacity for recordable discs could draw the ire of entertainment companies concerned about piracy of movies and music, as the DVD format has already enabled quicker and better illegal duplication of copyrighted entertainment content.

The new DL discs are single-sided, but have two layers for storing information, and each layer can independently record material. DVD+R DL discs are compliant with DVD-9 discs, so they will work with most available DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.

So will dual-layer discs be readily available when the new burners appear? Its likely that supplies will be limited.

"The new double-layer media has been a major challenge for Verbatim and its parent company, Mitsubishi Kagaku Media," Verbatim officials told PC Magazine. "The company is currently delivering media to Sony and others for compatibility testing, and products will be available at the time the new burners appear at retail.


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