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New spec adds speed to DVD race

The DVD+RW Alliance, one of two industry groups battling to set a rewritable DVD standard, unveils a new specification that should cut recording times.

One of the two DVD industry groups jockeying over competing standards is trying to give added speed to its spin with a new specification that will cut recording times on DVD+R discs.

The DVD+RW Alliance, a group of companies advocating the DVD+RW format for recording and rewriting files onto DVD discs, announced on Thursday its new 4X DVD+R specification. The technology is designed to allow devices to record a full-capacity DVD+R disc in less than 15 minutes. Support for DVD+R is a feature of the DVD+RW format. Another specification, for 4X DVD+RW, is also in the works from the consortium and should be available before the end of the year.

The DVD Forum, a rival consortium promoting the DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM formats, has been working on technology specifications for 4X DVD-R and 2X DVD-RW that should be available this month. Products using the new specifications will be available by the fourth quarter, according to Andy Parsons, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Pioneer Electronics.

The two groups have been trying to establish the formats they favor as the industry recordable and rewritable DVD standard. The result has been consumer confusion over which type of discs are compatible with which drives and players. Analysts have said the confusion may be leading to a slower rate of adoption of the recordable DVD technology.

Some DVD Forum member companies include Apple Computer, Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp. Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, Philips, Ricoh, Sony, Thomson Multimedia and Yamaha, are among the companies in the DVD+RW Alliance.

The DVD+RW Alliance also announced on Thursday 8-centimeter DVD+RW discs to be used in mobile devices, such as digital video cameras. The 8-centimeter discs can store up to 1.46GB of data compared with the 4.7GB capacity of 12-centimeter discs.