TOKYO The DVD Forum rolled out plans this week for a specification aimed at bringing greater order to an array of fragmented DVD standards. The DVD Multi effort is seeking to provide broader compatibility across DVD disks for the competing DVD-RAM and DVD-RW recording formats used in the consumer video market.
DVD Multi is not a new format, but a set of specifications and a brand that will define which drives will read and write which disks for the various DVD consumer and computer applications. Currently, each manufacturer decides for itself which types of disks its systems will read and write, a situation that has created confusion for OEMs and end users alike.
Koji Hase, acting chairman of the DVD Forum, said DVD Multi will go a long way to solving the compatibility problems that dog DVD formats today and may even help ease the conflict between the DVD-RAM and DVD-RW recording formats. The initial costs of complying with the spec will eventually be erased by those benefits, he added.
A first step defining a DVD Multi spec for computer applications is expected to be completed by the fall. DVD-ROM drives branded with a DVD Multi logo will be required to read DVD-Video (if the PC has a DVD-Video decoder for drives), DVD-Audio (again, if the PC has a DVD-Audio decoder for drives), DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD-R disks. In addition to those playback capabilities, recorders wearing the DVD Multi logo must be able write on DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD-R disks.
DVD Multi-compliant consumer DVD-Video players will be required to read DVD-Video and all recordable disks, including those from DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD-R systems. DVD-Audio players with the logo must be able to read DVD-Audio and all recordable disks in audio recording formats. DVD-Video/Audio players will read DVD-Video, DVD-Audio and all recordable disks in video and audio recording formats.
The Forum has no plans for additional disk formats, although new versions of existing formats, especially in the consumer field, are in the works. Hase said the DVD Multi standard will embrace all versions.
It's unclear how responsive OEMs will be to the new spec. Even without DVD Multi, OEMs could build products today that read and write to all formats, but that compatibility comes at a design cost.
"Even if the compatibility issue is technically solved, the market does not necessarily move," said Kenichiro Mori, a market researcher at Yano Research Institute Ltd.
See related chart