DVD-RAM drives ready for Macs

Matsushita joins Hitachi in demonstrating a Macintosh-compatible DVD-RAM drive, and will begin shipping mid-year.

Matsushita Electric recently demonstrated a Macintosh-compatible DVD-RAM drive, and will soon begin shipping the high-capacity, re-recordable drive by mid-year.

Matsushita demonstrated its DVD-RAM drive at the Tokyo MacWorld Expo this week, according to a report in the online version of Nikkei Business Publications. Shipments will begin in mid-1998, the report said.

DVD-RAM (digital versatile disc-random access memory) allows consumers to play and record data on a disc, unlike DVD-ROM, which only allows users to play back data. Currently, DVD-RAM drives hold 2.6GB per side, much less data than the non-recordable DVD-ROM drives, which can store up to 4.7 GB of multimedia content per side.

DVD-RAM drives are expected to be used in content creation and multimedia recording storage, markets where Apple's Macs have historically been strong. To date, only Matsushita and Hitachi have demonstrated DVD-RAM drive for Macs. Hitachi demonstrated their Mac DVD-RAM at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco last month.

The DVD-RAM market has been slowed by the lack of industry consensus on a standard format. Industry groups like the DVD Forum have been working on a standard that would accommodate the advances companies like Matsushita, Sony, Philips, and Pioneer have made in the amount of data stored per side of a DVD-RAM disc.

Matsushita's DVD-RAM was demonstrated on a Mac-only format, but will be marketed in UDF (universal disk format). Mac OS 8.1 supports UDF, an specification necessary for reading DVD.

The DVD Forum standard for the next-generation of DVD-RAM drives is expected in September of this year.