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Pioneer doubles down on DVD recorder

The company follows Sony with a dual-layer machine able to cram 8.5GB on a disc, and boasts of fast single-layer burning.

Pioneer announced on Tuesday a double-layer DVD burner that uses technology that competes with a format normally championed by the company.

Pioneer's new double-layer DVD burner

Pioneer's DVR-A08XL is designed to store up to 8.5GB on a disc, nearly twice the amount of data that can be recorded on a single-layer DVD. A fully recorded double-layer disc can hold 2,000 MP3 songs, according to the company. The drive also is designed to record single-layer DVDs at speeds of up to 16 times (16x) the normal playback speed. Pioneer said the new drive, which comes bundled with recording and editing software, should be available in August, priced at $179.99.

The product is designed to write on double-layer media at speeds of up to 4x, faster than double-layer drives put out by competitor Sony. But Pioneer, a strong backer of "dash" technology in a recordable DVD standards war, is borrowing from the rival "plus" camp that includes Sony, by depending on +R double-layer media.

Pioneer said it isn't abandoning the dash format, it's simply aiming to please consumers and avoid confusion about the various media available. The DVR-A08XL supports single-layer recording on -R (write-once) and -RW (rewritable) discs, along with +R and +RW discs. "We're supporting both technologies because in the market there's demand for both," said Ruth Hernandez, marketing manager for the optical group at Pioneer Electronics USA.

Recordable DVDs first emerged several years ago with dash products based on technology approved by the DVD Forum standards body. But companies including Philips and Hewlett-Packard have come together in the DVD+RW Alliance, which created a competing format. Double-layer recordable DVD products first hit the market using plus technology. The DVD Forum continues to discuss its version of double-layer recording, a Pioneer official said Tuesday.

The battle between plus and dash formats may not end with a clear victor. A number of manufacturers, including Sony, have been introducing recorders that incorporate both technologies. Separately, another standards battle is brewing over formats for replacing current DVD technology with still-higher capacity optical discs, which will likely be used to hold high-definition video.

Pioneer's Hernandez said the company is aiming its new product at "not only the techies but the moms out there." The product will be useful for tasks such as storing home movies as well as music, she said.

Bruce Leichtman, analyst at Leichtman Research Group, said the device's price is lower than he expected. "Under $200 is when you start to get into the realistic range of consumers," he said.

Pioneer said that although media designed to support 16x recording is not currently on the market, its new drive is able to write at speeds up to 16x on specified 8x media.