Toy Box: DVD re-writable standards reach consumers

Ah, standards wars. Don't you just love them? As if plunking down a hard-earned wodge of your own cash wasn't hard enough, you could end up looking like three kinds of idiot if you back the wrong horse.

Ah, standards wars. Don't you just love them? As if plunking down a hard-earned wodge of your own cash wasn't hard enough, you could end up looking like three kinds of idiot if you back the wrong horse.

But how to decide which standard to follow? It seems obvious now that everyone uses VHS instead of Beta, but did "everyone" adopt the better technology? The jury's still out on that one, especially since professional video users seem to favour the unpopular Beta standard.

Then there were the CD re-writable wars, which have spawned the DVD re-writable confrontation. Help me, Obi Wan. You're our only hope.

Pioneer has announced its combination drive that it hopes will help smooth the path for new users. It's the prosaically named AO4 DVD Writer range which combines DVD-R with DVD-RW standards. Hewlett-Packard, for its sins, has opted to push the DVD+RW standard which, of course, shouldn't be confused with the earlier DVD-RAM variant. Not all are interchangeable so be warned.

The AO4 is billed as the "first consumer priced DVD writer" and at a starting price of $1499 for the basic AO4B model isn't too far off the mark. The AO4FW includes a Firewire card and cable for connection with a digital video camera for $1999. The top of the range AO4PRO includes all that and the ReelDVD authoring software for that professional touch. Expect to pay around $2499 for this version.

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