Matsushita sets January ship date for recordable DVDs

Matsushita Electric will roll out its first DVD-RAM offerings in January of next year under its Panasonic brand. The Osaka-based vendor's DVD-RAM product line will include a 5.2G-byte internal SCSI drive for $US799 which will be sold in both Japan and the United States. Two other DVD-RAM units will only be available in Japan -- an external SCSI drive and an internal drive with an ATAPI interface. But Sony, along with several partners including PC maker Hewlett-Packard, is still pushing its own rewritable DVD format.

Matsushita Electric will roll out its first DVD-RAM offerings in January of next year under its Panasonic brand.

The Osaka-based vendor's DVD-RAM product line will include a 5.2G-byte internal SCSI drive for $US799 which will be sold in both Japan and the United States. Two other DVD-RAM units will only be available in Japan -- an external SCSI drive and an internal drive with an ATAPI interface, according to a Matsushita spokesman.

Though other supporters of the DVD-RAM specification, such as Hitachi, are shipping the high-capacity recordable drives in sample quantities, Matsushita could be the industry's first vendor to make DVD-RAM disks and drives available in retail markets, the spokesman said.

The company will offer 5.2G-byte double-sided disks at $39.95 in the United States and 4,000 yen in Japan. Single-sided disks, meanwhile, will retail for $24.95 and 2,500 yen in the United States and Japan respectively, he said.

The drives can read most major disk formats including DVD-ROM, DVD video, DVD-R, CD-Audio, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW and video CD, the Matsushita spokesman said.

The company is also at work on PC software for file back-up and MPEG-1 encoding and editing, he added.

The Matsushita announcement comes amid a flurry of development announcements from primarily Japanese hardware vendors relating to next-generation removable storage formats.

Sony, along with several partners including PC maker Hewlett-Packard, is pushing its own rewritable challenger to the DVD-RAM format which is supported by Matsushita, Toshiba and a host of other vendors.

Matsushita can be reached at http://www.mei.co.jp/.

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