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News in Brief

HITACHI Maxell has developed a way of providing terabyte-level storage capacity using multiple ultra-thin layer DVDs. By using nanoimprint technology, the company has reduced the thickness of a DVD to 0.092mm - 1/13th the thickness of regular DVDs - while maintaining the standard capacity of 4.7GB. Disc diameter is 12cm, the same as a regular DVD. The system features what the company calls Stacked Volumetric Optical Disc (SVOD) technology, which consists of 200 of the ultra-thin DVDs. The 200-disc cartridge offers up to near-terabyte level with 940GB of storage. Hitachi Maxell claims that blue-laser HD DVD technology could boost cartridge capacity to 10TB (50GB for each double-sided disc).

LYNIC Technology plc has finalised acquisition of a state-of-the-art facility in North Wales which it initiated in May. The new site gives Lynic a combined 90,000 sq ft of space and a total daily replication capacity of 200,000 CDs and 150,000 DVDs, thus doubling its CD and DVD replication capacity. This makes it one of the largest independent companies of its kind in the UK.

MICROSOFT has "no plans" to offer a version of its Xbox 360 console with an internal HD DVD drive, a company employee has stated in a bid to confound rumours to the contrary. According to the software giant's official Xbox employee blog, the company is "sticking" with the external drive it announced in January this year and demo'd in May."By keeping the drive external, we're offering consumers a choice in creating their own hi-def experiences," wrote one Cesar Menendez. "So: no plans for an internal HD DVD."

VERBATIM announced its new Mini DVD+R Double-Layer (DL) disc. Measuring only 8cm in diameter, the new discs provide nearly one hour of continuous video capture time on a single side or 2.6 GB of storage capacity – almost twice the capacity of current mini DVDR discs. Five-packs of Verbatim Mini DVD+R DL media will be available in July 2006, when the first new Mini +R DL-compatible camcorders are launched. The media can also be recorded with drives supporting the +R DL format.

HD DVD-backer Toshiba is hinting once again that unification between HD DVD and Blu-ray may still be the best option for ending the next-generation format war. Speaking at Toshiba’s recent annual shareholder meeting, President Atsutoshi Nishida stated "We have not given up on a unified format," and "we would like to seek ways for unifying the standards if opportunities arise."

THE Spanish Congress have voted to implement a tax on all blank media, including flash memory sticks, blank cd and dvd-rs, even mobile phones and printers. There is no word on how much this new tax will be, only that the revenues will be collected by the government, and will then be given to the "copyright holder."

ULEAD's Blu-ray Disc recording applications for rewritable and recordable discs have been certified by the Sony Blu-ray Test Center. Format verification serves as a guarantee to users that products are fully compatible with Blu-ray Disc specifications and entitles authorized products to carry the Blu-ray Disc logo. Two Ulead applications received certification in the category of Rewritable and Recordable Recorder Application Software. Ulead BD DiscRecorder is bundled with Sony Corporation BD notebook and desktop PCs under the brand Ulead BD DiscRecorder for VAIO.

PANASONIC announced the debut of its first-ever Blu-ray Disc player (DMP-BD10) with an SRP of $1299.95, matching receiver (SA-XR700) $999.95 and speaker system (SB-TP1000) $2999.95. and will be available at retail in September 2006. Each has been designed to optimize the benefits of Blu-ray Disc technology when integrated with Panasonic's Plasma HDTVs. Panasonic will also debut its first 1080P-capable 65-inch Plasma display (TH-65PX600) in fall 2006.

PLEXTOR has announced its first Blu-ray drive, the PX-B900A, will be available from September/October of 2006. The drive is able to write DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RAM, CD-R and CD-RW and its dual-layer DVD drive also combines multiple formats – DVD+/-R/RW and RAM – into one. It can accept both 12cm and 8cm discs and has a large 8MB buffer to ensure there is no data interruption. Write speeds: 2x BD-R/BD-RE, 8x DVD+R/-R/+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 4x DVD+R/-R DL, 5x DVD-RAM, 24x CD-R and 16x CD-RW.

GERMAN replicator CDA is offering CDs printed with braille fonts to make it much easier for visually impaired people to identify the content of the discs and the accompanying packaging – so minimizing the time spent marrying discs to their correct packaging. An important aspect of this CDA innovation is the fact that the expertise of the CDA specialised staff has ensured that the Braille printing, the system of printing for the visually impaired where raised, embossed characters are recognizable by touch, is added to the disc without affecting, in any way, the playability of the disc and its content.

MEMOREX has announced the retail availability of its first Blu-ray media.The recordable (BD-R) and rewritable (BD-RE) discs support high-definition (HD) video recording save and share up to 25 GB of HD contenty. The capacity is actually a little less - approximately 23.3GB for BD-R and 22.6GB for BD-RE (data). For protection the company's Blu-ray discs include DuraLayer Technology, a special scratch-resistant hard coating that guards against dust, debris and rough handling. Individually packaged Memorex Blu-ray recordable (BD-R) and re-writable (BD-RE) media are now shipping to select retail locations and are listed at a suggested retail price of $19.99 (£11) and $29.99 (£16), respectively.

COUNTERFEIT entry-level DVD burners under various brand names, including BenQ and Plextor, are being sold in the China market. Recent price cuts for entry-level models to 380-400 yuan (US$48-50) have boosted sales but reduced margins for distributors and retailers of branded products, according to Taiwanese makers of DVD burners. BenQ, Lite-On IT and other leading Taiwanese makers of DVD burners are closely monitoring the Taiwan market to prevent the inflow of fake products made in China, the sources noted. Because Taiwan's anti-piracy measures are significantly stricter than China's and pricing for DVD burners in Taiwan is more competitive than in China, counterfeit models from China are difficult to prevent from surfacing in the Taiwan market, the sources pointed out.