At CES 2004, Verbatim Corporation became the first DVD media manufacturer to announce dual-layer DVD+R media. The new subset of Verbatim's longstanding DataLifePlus line conforms to the DVD+R DL standard developed by Philips and Verbatim parent Mitsubishi, and endorsed by the DVD+RW Alliance at CEATEC Japan in October 2003. It promises an 8.5GB capacity (equal to replicated DVD-9), and is certified for 2.4X recording.
Verbatim's target launch date for the media is spring 2004, and they expect that date to coincide with the availability of new recorders capable of writing dual-layer discs in DVD+R DL format. According to Verbatim, the discs will require no adjustment to existing DVD players or DVD-ROM drives to read DVD-Video content written to the DL media. Since all DVD readers (set-top and ROM) are designed to read dual-layer discs, given the preponderance of Hollywood titles on DVD-9, read lasers should be physically equipped to re-focus and "see" both layers of data.
As is typical of new media rollouts—usually when need speed thresholds are crossed—the DL discs are not likely to be available in volume at their initial release date. "There will be an allocation issue for at least a quarter," says Verbatim representative Andy Marken. "Pricing will be at a premium" compared to single-layer DVD+R media, Marken says, "but not by much. The media will go through the regular channels, and there is no reason we shouldn't be able to ship it in spindle quantity after the supply crunch eases."
The first recording layer of a Verbatim DVD+R DL disc is semi-transparent, providing sufficient reflectivity for drives to read/write data on the first layer and transmit enough laser power to read/ write on the second layer by refocusing the laser. In addition to optimizing laser reflectivity, the new Metal Azo recording dyes were developed by Mitsubishi for each layer to optimize parameters such as signal amplitudes and power margins and ensure full compatibility with current DVD standards.
But "standards" compatibility doesn't necessarily mean "player" compatibility. As with all recording media—and especially with the ever-expanding matrix of drives and player—100% compatibility is never guaranteed. According to Marken, compatibility testing will continue over the next two months to ensure the discs will play on as many drives and players as possible. "Compatibility was a top priority in developing our Double-Layer media," says Tim Clatterbuck, Verbatim director of optical storage marketing. "Content developers will be among the first to make the switch because multimedia and video files require so much capacity. They can increase their productivity with the 8.5GB DVD+R media without worrying about playback compatibility. It will be the same as 4.7GB discs, just more capacity."