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Toshiba introduces dual-format DVD writers

The move is the latest sign that a war between two competing formats may end in mutual co-existence.

In the latest sign that a standards war is petering out, Toshiba has introduced dual-format DVD recordable drives.

Toshiba's Storage Device Division announced on Monday drives for notebook computers and desktop systems that support the "-R/RW" and "+R/RW" technologies.

The so-called "dash" and "plus" formats have been at odds when it comes to DVD recording, but more and more manufacturers are building both technologies into their machines to make things simpler for consumers.

Toshiba had been in the dash camp. Its drives had not supported "+R" media for write-once recording nor "+RW" media for the ability to write new material over previously recorded content.

"Consumers are accessing and creating more data, video and music files than ever before and expect their systems to support all formats available today," Maciek Brzeski, vice president of marketing at Toshiba's Storage Device Division, said in a statement. "Toshiba's new recordable drives enable desktop and mobile PC users to create DVDs and CDs without concern over media types."

Toshiba said its SD-R5272 desktop drive is priced at $149. The SD-R6372 drives for notebooks are currently shipping to manufacturers, the company said.

DVD recording lets consumers store video and other kinds of data on digital versatile discs (DVDs). The formats for DVD-R and DVD-RW recording came out of the DVD Forum standards body. Later, a group that includes Hewlett-Packard and Philips came up with "+R/RW" technology. The plus camp continues to claim it is a superior format, and recently pointed to a media incompatibility issue that has cropped up on the dash side.

But even HP has introduced a dual-format DVD recorder. So have Sony and Pioneer, which has been a major defender of the dash format.

A number of analysts believe the future of the recordable DVD market lies in dual-format machines.

A separate contest is under way for the successor to today's DVDs; next-generation optical disc technology is expected to store data-intensive high-definition TV programs.

The dual-format DVD approach may simplify the purchase of discs, but the convenience is costing consumers, Brzeski said. There is about a 10 percent premium on dual-format "bare" drives compared with single-format bare drives, he said. Bare drives are devices without software, typically bought by PC makers. Brzeski said the bulk of that markup stems from royalties.