The DVD Dilemma
By John B. Virata

Page 1 of 1

Intellikey Labs released a survey that detailed the compatibility of DVDs that were created using both the DVD+R/RW formats and the DVD-R/RW formats. The testing was done using various DVD media that were created and then played on more than 100 set top DVD players from 30 manufacturers. The next day (Aug. 20), Pioneer, the dominant player in the DVD-R/RW burner market, issued a press release contradicting the Intellikey Labs report with its own data, data that Intellikey provided Pioneer in July 2002 from a survey on DVD format compatibility that Pioneer paid Intellikey to conduct.

In its release of July 20, Pioneer made it clear that "It is not in the consumerís best interest to present one set of results as conclusive evidence." [an error occurred while processing this directive]As a consumer, I have yet to purchase a DVD burner because of all the confusion that reports such as these bring onto the market. It is one thing for one testing lab to say x technology had better success or failure rates, but it is another for the lab to revert back and say that Y technology had better success or failure rates. It appears that this is what happened in this case with the data provided by both Intellikey and Pioneer.

Two camps are pushing their respective technologies on the confused consumer, the DVD+RW Alliance, whose main sponsors include Dell, HP, Mitsubishi Chemical, Verbatim, Philips, Ricoh, Sony, Thomson, and Yamaha; and
The DVD Forum, whose main proponents inculde Hitachi, Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Pioneer Electronic Corp., Royal Philips Electronics, N.V., Sony Corp., Thomson Multimedia, AOL Time Warner, Inc., Toshiba Corp., and Victor Company of Japan.

As a consumer, all these surveys have done is confused me. I am confused. I don't know that the DVD-R/RW drive that I was going to purchase this weekend is the right purchase. Should I get a DVD+R/RW drive now? Or should I wait to buy one of the new Sony Dual RW drives when they ship this fall? Although these drives are supposed to be able to write to both competing formats, it doesn't solve the issue of two formats vying for your DVD creation dollars. I could go the Apple Computer route and get one of the new G4s, but there is limited DVD authoring software available on that platform, and those PCs don't ship with DVD rewritable drives yet.

This format war has gone on for years now and I think that all it has done is promote a confused marketplace. When will the consumers see relief on this technology issue? Can the two competing camps put all their eggs in one basket, as Sony seems to have done with the scheduled release of the Dual RW drives, and make things much easier and less confusing for the consumer?

John B. Virata is senior editor at DMN. His reviews are his own and don't reflect the views of DMN. You can email him at [email protected]

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