Combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM Drive Coming

In February 2000, Toshiba will release the SD-R1002, the first combination CD-Recordable (CD-R)/CD-Rewritable (CD-RW) and read-only DVD (DVD-ROM) drive. Ricoh will make a similar hybrid drive available, although extensive details on Ricoh’s drives were not available. Toshiba says that it designed the drive to help users transition from CD to DVD technology. Industry observers note that the market is larger than just those users moving from one technology to the other; CD-RW will remain popular until DVD drives are no longer read-only. Toshiba hasn’t released a price for Value Added Resellers (VARs) but notes that a standalone SD-R1002 kit bundled with software will cost less than $400, making the hybrid drive much cheaper than purchasing separate CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives. Manufacturing the drive required several modest advances in drive technology. CD drives and DVD drives require different lasers; the DVD laser has a shorter wavelength than its CD counterpart. Putting two separate lasers on one read/write head would be disastrous because heavy heads result in extremely slow access times. The solution is to use half-combined lasers. The read/write head on the hybrid drives uses two distinct lasers sharing optics, which dramatically reduces the total head weight. The Toshiba drive will have 4X CD-R and CD-RW speeds, 24X CD-ROM read speeds, and 4X DVD read speeds. The Ricoh drive will have 6X CD-R speeds, 4X CD-RW speeds, 24X CD-ROM read speeds, and 4X DVD read speeds. For comparison, a Sony Spressa Internal CD-RW drive with the same CD-R, CD-RW, and CD-ROM read speeds as the Toshiba drive retails for about $330. A Toshiba 4.8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM kit (lacking recordable or rewritable capability) costs about $170 on the street.

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