The first unit will be the DRU-700A, an internal ATAPI model. The DRX-700UL, an external USB 2/i.LINK (FireWire) unit will follow shortly thereafter. The external drives will boast a sleek new vertical look. The internal 700A will list for $230, the external 700UL for $330.
It's worth noting that the drives and media are +R-only at this point. Pioneer submitted a complete dual-layer spec for DVD-R to the DVD Forum in October 2003, but it has not been officially accepted. To distinguish the +R format from the forthcoming -R format, and add more terminological detritrus to the already-cluttered world of DVD recording, the +RW Alliance insists that the "DL" in "DVD+R DL" stands for "double-layer." This not only differs from what they expect the Forum to call their DVD-R spec, but also what dual-layer DVD-9 has been called from the get-go. In any event, says Robert DeMoulin, marketing manager for branded storage products in Sony's IT products division, "When the Forum offers up their spec, we'll have a -R version."
The Sony drives will ship with a full software bundle of Nero tools, including versions of Nero Burning ROM 6 SE, Express 6, and Vision Express 2 capable of writing ROM and DVD-Video images to DVD+R DL media. Also bundled are the backup tool BackItUp, the software DVD player Nero ShowTime, and InCD for packet writing; all the Nero tools are available via the SmartStart launcher. As for how Nero got the nod for the 700 Series bundle, DeMoulin says, "They were the first to make the dual-layer stuff work. It helps that their location is very close to Philips."
According to DeMoulin, "The science of dual-layer is pretty straightforward." In a recent white paper, "Understanding Dual Layer DVD Recording," he writes, "Single layer DVDs have a wobbled pre-groove molded into the polycarbonate base that controls the rotation speed of the disc and provides the addressing scheme for the disc. In a dual layer recordable disc, each recording layer has its own wobbled pre-groove that controls rotation speed and addressing for that layer. However, the entire `table of contents' and system area of a dual layer recordable disc is contained only on the first recorable layer (Layer 0)." DeMoulin adds that data recorded to the discs will be written hub-to-edge on Layer 0 and edge-to-hub on Layer 1 (second recordable layer).
DeMoulin goes on to say that dual-layer discs can be written as DVD-Video and DVD-ROM, and even recorded multisession or packet. In any case, the disc's "two layers represent one contiguous address stream."
Though the drives will be demo'd at NAB in April, Sony has hedged the ship date as "Q2," which will mean May or June. Verbatim, first-to-market again with media, says their DVD+R DL discs will begin shipping at the same time as the Sony drives, with quantity shipments to follow in late Q3.