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CD products head to market

DVD has been stealing the limelight, but here comes a raft of recordable CD-ROM products, showing that CDs are by no means a thing of the past.

While DVD has been stealing the limelight of late, a raft of recordable CD-ROM products is now hitting the market, showing that CDs are by no means a thing of the past.

Adaptec (ADPT) introduced new software that makes a CD-R (recordable CD) and CD-RW (recordable and rewriteable CD) more like a floppy drive, while Smart and Friendly unveiled a new CD-RW drive with software that makes recording audio and video easier. Next week, Hewlett-Packard is also expected to announce a new recordable CD product.

DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) have been eagerly anticipated by consumers because they offer greater storage capacity than the CD-ROM. A DVD-ROM disc can store up to 4.7GB of data, while a CD-ROM or recordable CD disc can hold around 650MB of information. But few PCs are shipping with DVD-ROM drives yet, and few titles designed to take advantage of the ability to store and playback MPEG video are on the market

New recordable DVD technology is on the way too, but has hit snags as several vendors have talked of introducing incompatible formats. In the meanwhile, the recordable CD format has matured to the point where it can essentially act as a large floppy drive.

Adaptec's DirectCD software changes the way the system talks to the drive, so that data is recorded in small increments rather than in large, continuous streams. Older recordable CD products were difficult to use because the recording session couldn't be interrupted--if it was, the CD was rendered useless. Use of what is called Universal Disk Format (UDF) packet writing technology in the new version makes CD-R more practical for everyday use by permitting users to delete and write individual files on the CD.

Just like a floppy drive, users can rename, move, or delete individual files and can also use an application's "save as" command to store information instead of opening up a separate program to do recording in.

Smart and Friendly introduced the CD-RW 426 Deluxe, which the company says is a quad-speed CD recorder with double-speed recordable-rewritable capability.

The drive comes with Adaptec's DirectCD software for recording and deleting files as well as Adaptec's EasyCD Creator Deluxe Edition. The software allows users to create CDs with audio and video content. For instance, music from alternate sources such as cassettes or records can be digitally filtered and transferred to CD. Music and video can be combined onto a CD which is playable on a DVD movie player, the company says.

Adaptec's DirectCD software version 2.0 is available to manufacturers now. Smart and Friendly says the drive and software bundle is available later this month for $699.