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Sony's Double Density CD-RW Drive Reviewed 163

Boone^ writes: "Sony's newest CD-RW, the Spressa CRX200E-A1, is actually a DD-RW, meaning that it (re)writes on DD media that's capable of 1.3GB of data storage using the new Purple Book standard. Sony adapted the ISO 9660 format, but they narrowed the track pitch from 1.6 to 1.1 microns and shortened the minimum pit length from 0.833 to 0.623 microns. I found some benchmarks of the new drive on So, is this just a technology hack until DVD-RW prices come down? This drive seems like a steal with a $250 USD sticker compared to the recordable DVD options." If it's on Pricewatch, it's not vapor anymore. You may have to look around a while for the double-density media, though -- and if that doesn't catch on, you'll be glad it's also a regular CD-RW drive.
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Sony's Double Density CD-RW Drive Reviewed

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can it read or write Dreamcast double density CD's?
    Since all game consoles are sold without making any benefice, selling a device that can break the copy protection of a major competitor, is a brilliant move to cut off any revenue they make selling games and to force them out of the game console business.

    Off course this is an impossible scenario since Sony is one of the major advocates for intellectual property protection.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes indeed it does!
    The new format also includes a copyright control system to prevent illegal copying of data on the discs.
    -- from the PC World Online story "Sony Set to Launch Double Density CD". Direct links don't seem to work, but you can click here [] and then search for "double density".

    And as we all know, systems billed as "preventing illegal copying" prevent legal copying along with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The way you back up a commodity hard drive is with another commodity hard drive.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't really get excited about 1.3G on a new, incompatible CD when Constellation 3D is so close to releasing product for Fluorescent Multi-layer Disc (FMD) [] technology, which can hold 20 - 100 GB on a CD-size disc.

    According to the site, they're already working on WORM, and future disc capacities are predicted to be greater than 1 terabyte. With those kind of sizes, re-write ability shouldn't be a real issue for awhile. They're also saying there isn't a lot of difference in the drive technology from CDs, so drives will be similarly priced. I can't wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, just some information that I thought would be interesting to add.

    Don't you mean "interesting to steal"? Shame on you for trying to pass this off as your own writing. Next time, try giving credit [] where it's due.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:26PM (#223118)
    For those of us in California, Fry's carries Sony double density disks - sony brand of course. They're about $10 for a 2-pack I think. Does this mean that Sony has some kind of patent on this technology? If so, then will other manufacturers bother to make clones? Will this become like Sony's other strange media formats like the mini-disk and the memory stick?
  • It's dead-end for me right now if there's no SCSI version...

    - A.P.

    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • haha, yes, that is what he was talking about. "Way back when...". The Apple ][ floppies were single sided only. To use the second side, you had to cut out a hole on the side of the disk opposite to the normal write protect hole. Once you did this, you had a flippy. ie, when you wanted to use the data on the second side of the disk, you litterally flipped the disk over in the drive.

    Bill - aka taniwha

  • Yeah, except, like the guy said, the double density cds won't be readable by other drives, and the fact is, if 700MB wasn't enough, 1.4GB won't be enough either.

    It's a nice idea, and if it takes off and writable DVD doesn't, it may be good enough. Then again, as commodity hard drives are exceeeding 80GB, it gets increasigly difficult and discouraging trying to back them up. Writable DVD is in flux right now, and as soon as everyone agrees on a standard and the price of media and hardware comes down, double density cd will be gone, because the new standard will be dvd. It's the same situation when cdr drives came out.

  • RS sold a floppy for it (which I actually still have) that could run on AA batteries as well. It used a 3.5" disk, but got some incredibly low amount of storage. 200k? 50k? It's been too long. Once I had a program to make my xt act as a drive for it (it talked to the drive through the rs-232 port), there was no reason to fix the silly thing.

    oh, and for the *really* bizarre, someone in the area (San Diego) actully set up a bbs running on his 102 . . . hmm, that may have been where I got the program for the xt . . .


  • LD ultimately failed because people didn't have the tolerance for disk-flipping, I think.

    There are lots of factors, the size wasn't exactly convenient, and they were heavy. Players can get louder than with DVDs due to the drive power needed to spin them.

    I don't know when it started, but LD players did end up having dual-side play. Apparently it made the players a bit taller.

    I still get a few LDs mainly because they are now cheaper used (sometimes new!) than DVDs. For stuff that has a progressive/anamorphic/DD5.1 DVD I just get the DVD though as that is much better though. My player is a combo DVD/LD player so that cuts out a few considerations for me.
  • Well, let's see. Betamax is still the best videotape technology around. While it died off in the consumer market, it's still the standard for broadcast video cameras....

    You're confusing Betamax with Betacam/Betacam SP. Different formats - the only commonality is tape width and the cassette shells at the smallest size. The magnetic coatings are different, the tape speeds are different, and Betacam usually uses a larger form-factor cassette as well.

    And for that matter, good luck finding a non-Sony Betacam deck. Just because it's "standard" doesn't mean it's not proprietary (e.g. Microsoft).


  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:25PM (#223125)
    This has "dead-end" written all over it. Anyone taking bets on how likely it is you'll see:
    • This technology packaged with anybody's computers but Sony's?
    • This technology in drives from other manufacturers?
    • These new disks supported by standalone players from ANY manufacturer?

    • Remind me, again, why I would possibly want this over one of the DVD-based formats?

      Doubling capacity doesn't cut it anymore - in storage, it's only worth making the leap for an order of magnitude.


  • If you remember Beagle Brothers from the old Apple ][ days, one of the little cartoons that they produced once was the two brothers talking about this exact issue.

    Something along the lines of that single sided floppy drives were different. Apples, for example, read the bottom of the disk, while Ataris, for example, read the top side. Single sided disks are tested for one side to be reliable. So which side do they test?

    It was funnier when I read it the first time with the semi-poorly drawn images of the two Beagle Brothers, but I think it was not so much what side was capable but more that the magnetic properties wouldn't bleed through to the other side (though it never happened with any of my floppies).


  • With most Apple ][ emulators, you should be able use the Karateka found at es/action/karateka.dsk [].

  • Well, those AOL floppies aren't worth anything if that's what you're referring to..

    At one point I used to work for a computer lab at a university around the time when the AOL floppies were coming out strong.. people would come up to me and ask why their file can't be read, and I'd look at the disk and shake my head...


  • man setfdprm
  • One answer: No.
  • I remember both hacks. The Apple ][ hack was actually fairly reliable. The DD -> HD hack never stored data worth anything.

    Not bad getting two jokes for one, though. :)
  • However, one of the decided advantages for a small shop to use CD-R for backup is the compatibility of other machines. If you backup to CD-Rs and move the media off-site to a storage location (a good practice) and the site burns to the ground. It is very easy to get the data back using almost any computer in the world today.

    If you have the data in a format that is not quite as accessible as CD-R, then there is a possibility for atleast a longer delay getting access to the data. Do you have to wait 1-2 days to get a new drive shipped and installed, because the local shops do not carry this strange drive? (Of course this also applies to the various tape systems out there also.)
  • Sega's Dreamcast media isn't really Double-Density, nor is it truly a copy protection.

    The Dreamcast uses what's called a GD-ROM. The GD-ROM holds about a Gigabyte of data. The storage itself isn't copy protection, as it's simply a way to squeeze more data onto a disk.

    The layout of a DC disc is broken up into two tracks. The first track consists solely of a four second audio snip - any kind, even silence. The second track is simply a CD/XA data track using a standard ISO9660 file system with the first 16 sectors of the track used as a bootstrap.

    So basically, if you had a Gigabyte CD, you could make Dreamcast discs. GDROM discs are perfectly readable in standard CDROM drives; you need no special hardware to read them.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Yeah. I bought a special hole-puncher just for the job. worked a treat :)

    Go you big red fire engine!
  • I'm holding out for a Firewire-based external, I need it on multiple machines. Building anime discs out of VCDs is an obvious application for me.
  • What we're lacking here is information. Are these disks readable on CD-ROM drives? How about DVD-ROM drives, perhaps with a firmware upgrade?
  • Actually there was a post on /. about such a disk about 3 months ago, but it was at least a year away.
  • Wow, there's a wealth of detailed technical information [] available on the new format, but not a word about what particular breakage is built in to prohibit copying; the article (from September 2000) says it "has still to be decided."

    In a better world, this would be turn out to be something relatively toothless, like the "copying allowed" bit that's present (though always ignored) even in the current CD Audio spec.

    But odds are it'll be something horrible in the hardware. Then I won't mind that this format is probably going to die a lingering death.

    Is anybody going to come out with a format that's as free as CD-R with more capacity?

    Ironically, if anyone does it's going to be a country as un-free as China, which makes a lot of $$$ off SVCD.

    Except that the Chinese Communist Party and the RIAA would probably get along too well. They have hobbies in common-- like the whole ruthless-monopoly-on-power thing...

  • Why is everybody so down on this? As I understand it, this is an open format, not a Sony- or Iomega-proprietary one. That's a win right there.

    Another one is that it doesn't seem to be carry all the encryption and other baggage that DVD has: you don't need a special, expensive "for Authoring" drive and media to get around all the copyright baloney. No watermarking. No lossy compression.

    I mean, DVD-R is so crippled that the latest thing in the ripping community is making "mini-DVDs []", CD-Rs burnt with (a few minutes of) DVD-quality video.

    If you have a multi-disc DVD changer (and more and more geeks do), then you can spread the movie out among a few CD-Rs, and have an almost seamless transition. There are even firmware hacks to make initially uncooperative players support the format.

    If equipment makers get on the bandwagon, we could have a more lightweight format for VCDs, and even double-length audio CDs. I hope it takes off.

  • I'm a huge fan of the 8cm discs -- is the new DD standard compatible with them? 370MB on something you can tuck into your shirt pocket would be pretty sweet.


  • That game was indeed awesome. Definately the best combat-style game for the II series.
  • Because the thin disk is dipped in a magnetic coating. No matter how thin it is, there is some magnetic goodness on one side AND some different particles of magneticossity on the other side. They are kept separate by the plastic disk.
  • I'll tell you why you (well, maybe not you, but some people) might like this very much, in fact. 1.3GB is about the point where a DivX (re)encoded DVD becomes (for most people) better than VHS quality. Normally, such movies are burned to two CDs, but you have to swap CDs in the middle of the movie. With this technology, you could very easily backup your DVD collection (or put your VHS tapes on digital media for portable viewing! (if they make a portable model)). Since the cheapest true DVD-Rs still cost something like a $1000, this is a very cheap alternative.
    Also, I have many friends with multi-GB mp3 collections. Backing up their collections takes all day, literally. With a 1.3GB disc, it would only take half that time, not entirely unuseful.
    And what about those home movies that you made with your spiffy new digital camera? Wanna have them recorded at full quality but don't have the hard drive space to keep them all at once? No can still view them easily on your computer and have them neatly indexed, just store them on a few DD-RW, or whatever the official name is.
    So, yeah, I can see where this could be pretty dang useful for a lot of people.
  • No, the analogy is correct. I have a LS-120 drive, and it read/writes 1.44MB floppies _MUCH_ faster than a standard drive. I think the boxes the drives are sold in claim that it is 27 TIMES faster than a standard floppy drive.

    If you can find one for about $40-$50, it's a pretty good investment. This is assuming that you still use floppies, though. :)

    "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
  • Of course doubling is an order of magnitude better, in binary that is.
  • by bjsvec ( 19546 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:26PM (#223147)
    That is one of my favorite all time hacks. Amaze your friends by showing them how to double their disk capacity with a hole punch!

    For those who don't recall (or weren't around) you
    could use the other side of a 5 1/4 floppy by cutting out the write protect tab and flipping it over.
  • Given that the internal plastic disk was quite thin, how did writing on one side of the disk not affect the bits stored on the other side.?
  • My point is not about whether or not the disk is coated on both sides, but rather, why writing a "0" bit on side A doesn't also write a corresponding "0" bit on side B. The magnetic field (it would seem to me), would be strong enough to act through the very thin disk and affect both sides. I suppose the answer is that my assumption is NOT true, and that the write field does not extend through to the back of the disk...
  • Remind me, again, why I would possibly want this over one of the DVD-based formats?

    The same reason you want memory stick. ha ha.
  • I loved this game too. Anyone have any luck finding/using it on one of the apple ][ emulators?
  • OTOH...everybody now buys CD-RW-drives because CD-R drives are just not available anymore. Still most people only use CD-R media because it's cheaper. If this new format is to become the new standard for writers, we can probably expect all CD-RW-drives to be compatible with this new standard rather soon. Even if the media won't be a success, the drive most probably will be.
  • by alecto ( 42429 )
    I wonder what kind of copy protection this format will have built in. No thank you.
  • > media only costs a fraction more than current CD-R media

    $10 per 2-pack, according to another post. 1500% is a pretty large fraction. Note that's more than the 8x difference I cited for 2.88MB vs. 1.44MB floppies.

    > drive itself is competitively priced with existing CD-R only drives

    $250 vs. $80 [] -- that's stretching the definition of "competitive". And again, that's more than the 3x difference cited for floppy drive prices.

    > this drive is bi-format

    2.88MB drives had that; it wasn't enough. My money still says I won't be eating my shoe anytime soon.

  • by nakaduct ( 43954 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:25PM (#223155)
    ... you could buy the drives from a tiny handful of vendors (check), for about 3x the money (check), with media prices only eight times higher than the 1.44MB counterparts (check), and of course they weren't readable on the massive installed base of drives (check).

    And after you went to all that trouble, your stack of 600 floppies was now... only half as high! 300 floppies!

    If 700MB isn't enough, then 1.xGB won't be that great, either. Certainly not enough of an improvement to throw away compatibility and incredibly low commodity prices. If this sells more than a token number of units, I'll eat my shoe.

  • Hmmm....look at Exchange Server, it's largely built on top of X.400....
  • Well, let's see. Betamax is still the best videotape technology around. While it died off in the consumer market, it's still the standard for broadcast video cameras....

    A company the size of Sony can afford to throw a lot of ideas against the wall to see if any stick. And since lots of other companies license components from Sony, it's quite possible that you'll see this technology in things other than Sony products.
  • Oops. My bad.

    There's a nice overview at

  • Actually, the reason that the hack worked was because all (or at least the vast majority) of manufactured 5 1/4" were actually double-sided. It was cheaper to manufacture only double-sided disks and just test one side for errors. This is the reason the hack worked so well.

    Another consideration was that, after a while, single-sided disks disappeared from the market. With only certified double-density disks available, you might as well have punched them into "flippies" as you were wasting half the available space if you didn't.

    The first box of disks we bought in 1985 for our then-new IIe was a ten-pack of double-sided TDKs (for about $27, if I recall...$2.70/disk for 280K if you punched them, 140K otherwise). I still have some of those disks, and they're still readable. By comparison, I've had 3.5" floppies go bad just days after they were written.

  • If this sells more than a token number of units, I'll eat my shoe. cheers, mike
    I so much wish that I was Bill Gates right now :-)
  • by wurp ( 51446 )
    Entropy is only a statistical certainty. It is possible for unordered information to become ordered by random fluctuation.

    It sucks to be a pedant, but is sucks more to be the target of a pedant.
  • by wurp ( 51446 )
    Probably true.
  • by theMAGE ( 51991 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @02:08PM (#223163)
    This will come bundled with a memory stick :)

  • I take it that this drive will work with the very same CD-R disks I have sitting in a stack on my bookshelf. Is that correct?

    Back when NeXT used the 4Mbyte floppies, a lot of people still used floppies for footnet, and none of the PC's or Mac's would read the 4 meg disks.

    Nowadays, when I burn a CD for backup, it's pretty rare that I ever put that disk in a different drive than the one that made it.

  • 1500% isn't a fraction at all. It's a percentage.

  • Not sure if it was Phillips, but it was Sony in tandem with some company that started with a "P" (Phillips, Pioneer, Panasonic? I'm guessing Pioneer, myself...), I think. I remember reading somewhere that Sony wanted smaller discs (think MD or those weird japanese single sizes that I think are used in cameras these days), and the other company wanted something more in line with LP's, and the current CD stanard was their compromize.
  • by joq ( 63625 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:35PM (#223167) Homepage Journal

    I'm still waiting on the consortium between the NSA, IBM, Microsoft and Sun to form so I could have a 1gig chip implanted in my head that plugs into any outlet which is connected to a 1terrabit drive created by clustered Clariion's which stores the data in my head for STORAGE PURPOSES ONLY thank you.

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @03:52PM (#223168) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the reason that the hack worked was because all (or at least the vast majority) of manufactured 5 1/4" were actually double-sided. It was cheaper to manufacture only double-sided disks and just test one side for errors. This is the reason the hack worked so well. You just had the slight chance of running into a disk that had an error on the reverse side (rather than one that they hadn't bothered to test both sides.) Also, the Apple ][ didn't store at the same density that they tended to test with, so it worked better with Apples than IBM PCs.

  • i've got an lsd-120 drive

    one thing about it that is nice is that when using normal floppy disks it isn't the loudest contraption known to man.... is there something in the floppy drive spec that says 1.44 mb drives have to make the same floppy access noises as apple 2's?

    i didn't get the lsd-120 drive willingly though.... it was forced upon me by my school's technology program.... and actually i've loaned mine out all year to another student who is too lazy to get hers... she has lsd-120 disks
  • The Beta (Betamax was specific to the home models) format is still used professionally, yes.

    I wouldn't blame the failure of Beta to Sony's lack of marketing. I'd blame it on VHS decks being very significantly cheaper, the fact that Beta tapes only held an hour's worth of video, and that the quality was good enough for taping broadcast television.

    Laserdisc never had mass-market appeal because the disks were much more expensive than VHS, because most people didn't care enough about the quality to drop the money, and that therefore most movies didn't see the light of day on LD and LD rentals are basically unheard of. DVDs are catching on because they're cheaper and you don't have to flip the disc [as often].

  • This sounds exactly like what the dreamcast uses. Only difference is the dreamcast GD-ROMS can only hold about 1 gig because there is an audio track at the beginning, and the 'high density' session starts a little while into the disc.
  • seems to have them available for order. doesn't specify whether they are "in stock" or not though.
  • Noooo. Jeeze that's an Apple ][ hack.

    What you are talking about is doubling the useable sides, not density.

    You used to be able to get a "special" hole punch (out of the back of Computer Shopper, back before it sucked. Damn internet!) that put an extra hole in a "Double Density" (720k) floppy so that the drive would see it as a "High Density" (1.44M) floppy.

    It didn't work worth a damn (my dad bought one, he's pretty cheap) because the "coercivity" (amount of energy required to make the magnetic state change) of the media is different.

    The thing that makes this all super on-topic is that Sony created the 3.5 in diskette!


  • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:18PM (#223176) Homepage Journal
    Where can I get a hole punch that will convert my regular CDRs to DD-CDRs?


    PS: It's a joke. If you don't get it just move on.


  • A ".iso" format is just a dump of the contents of the disc, at the error-corrected level above the "raw" recording data. And you, sir, are an idiot.

    I may me an idiot, but I'm well aware of 2 things. 1) that an .iso format is in fact just a dump of the disc contents that matter. 2) that the formats in which I've been able to find DC software CD images (legal projects based stuff), are not just dumps of the disc contents, but rather some information which the intended burning software interprets into track divisions, track types, and track data, for which I have no software that makes sense of it.

  • Thanks, that was usefull info. My problem with slashdot, is that when I write something like "Why doesn't someone convert those formats..." people read it as an "Is everyone but me an idoit?" statement, rather than what it really is which is a "What's wrong with the idea of making DC disc images ISO format?" I guess the correct response then would be "Because ISO images won't boot correctly without some extra processing, hence its easier for most people if the discs are a different format."

    Thanks again,

  • by Controlio ( 78666 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @02:31PM (#223181)
    The big thing that CD-R had going for it (and hopefully DVD-R will follow suit) is that it was functional in a huge number of existing devices. CDs were wildly popular in both computers and stereo systems by the time that CD-Rs became feasible for the end user. That's why everyone HAD to have one when they became cheap... this single device would copy audio CDs, data CDs AND mixed mode CDs... it was an awesome tool.

    Hopefully DVD-Rs will follow suit, and become functional in regular DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. Again, the major advantage is the fact that there's already a huge number of DVD devices out there in the wild. That's why everyone wants a writer - to be able to write discs for a device they already own.

    This format will fail... if not soon, in the long run. The problem, is they've put the cart before the horse - they're making a writer for a format that doesn't have any real world existance as of yet. There's no appeal - larger storage is already available in DVD-Rs, and the new higher density CD doesn't have any compatability with existing CD devices. Plus, it's a different kind of media, so you can't even use your old CD media in this device. I can't see a single reason to pick this new format for anything... the ONLY bright spot is that the writer doubles for a standard CD writer, but then why not just buy a regular CD writer?

    Thus, in my opinion, this format is doomed. Standard or not.
  • Didn't Sony pioneer the Compact Disc?

  • What about DVD RAMS? They're starting at $135 on
  • Only doubling the normal CD capacity at a time when greater capacity R/W media are on horizon leads to a problem of the timing / critical mass variety.

    I work in an industry where files & data sets routinely range from 400MB to 32GB.
    For archival and client data purposes we use 1-4 CD's for stuff under 2GB & tape for larger sets & permanent archive.
    With 30 years of data in the vault, we tend to stick to 'long term' methods & only upgrade storage media types on a 5/6 year time frame.

    Even with the advent of DD-CDR's we are unlikely to change over as we would end up posting clients data on media that they can't yet read.
    Halving the number of CD's stored or posted isn't worth the data portability issues created.

    By the time DD-CDR's have matured and become common, we would be looking for the next great portable media with a capacity of 2-4 GB's.

    This kind of approach would be pretty common in many established industries & government departments.

    The exploration industry still embraced CD-R's wholeheartedly when they first appeared, quite a few offices still have original model KODAK external SCSI single speed CD burners, from the days when these weighty beasts cost a few grand $US.
  • I assure you, Mini Disc hasn't flopped...

    True it hasn't taken off in the US, but if you've been to Japan lately, its a different story.

  • by jaxon6 ( 104115 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:19PM (#223192)
    the way i see it, this will take off like the LS-120 drives. come on, show of hands, who has one? that's what i thought. the new itanium boxes use ls-120 instead of floppies, but besides them? well, the prototype itanium's were. maybe i'm not supposed to say anything about them, but i didn't sign the nda, the company did. and they fired me, so.....

  • They should take a lesson from Topps and include a stick of gum. It's much more useful than a Sony MemoryStick.

  • Does this DD-RW have any copy protection built in?
    63,000 bugs in the code, 63,000 bugs,
    ya get 1 whacked with a service pack,
  • wrote ISO specs.

    Or am I too old for anyone to catch this [] reference?

  • > media only costs a fraction more than current CD-R media

    $10 per 2-pack, according to another post. 1500% is a pretty large fraction.

    The other post was probably citing DD-RW prices, so you should compare to CD-RWs, which retail for about $2.50 each. That's 200%, not 1500%.

    As for comparing CD-R to DD-RW, you're repeating many of the same arguments of CD-R v. CD-RW. You need to burn a CD-RW about twenty times before the cost of media breaks even with a CD-R. You need to burn a lot of CD-RWs before the cost of the drive breaks even with CD-R.

    DD-RW is priced competitively with CD-RW. I doubt that DD-R will be priced competitively with CD-R.

  • The only problem with this new Sony drive is that it's a Sony. Every Sony CD burner I have encountered has failed. In my experience at least, they suck and I'll never buy a Spressa drive again. Ick!

  • I have a side-flipping model (Pioneer CLD-3060), they have been around forever. Pioneed even made a 2-drawer model (LD-W2 I think), where each platter got each side played. But side-flipping added a lot to the cost, and AFAIK most LD people didn't have that feature.
  • by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @05:33PM (#223212)
    Laserdisc never had mass-market appeal because the disks were much more expensive than VHS

    I have been collecting laser disks since the late '80s, so I know a little about this.

    Back in The Day, LD was a STEAL. Years ago a pre-recorded videotape was often $90+. Yes, even popular movies. VHS wasn't always a buyer's market, it started as a renter's market. You were expected to get your VHS fix from the neighborhood rental store, and tapes were priced insanely high, because stores bought them, not individual people.

    LD, on the other hand, was priced for collectors. In 1989 I could buy Die Hard on VHS for $100, or I could buy it on DVD for $50. Many DVDs were only $30-40, when the video tapes cost up to twice as much! Us laser disc people were smug up until the late 80s, and rightfully so. We were getting a good approximation of the DVD experience years ahead of schedule, and for less money than a VHS habit would have cost. ;)

    Eventually the studios figured out they could make a forune from selling $10 VHS tapes of hit movies in supermarkets, and at this point the LD price advantage disappeared. For the most popular software, anyway -- but there were still lots of more obscure movies and specials you could get on LD far cheaper than VHS.

    There was never a software scarcity problem with LDs, either. I could find any movie I wanted, it's not like only the top 10 were pressed onto LD. There was also a lot of educationa;/reference programming... I have this great Apollo project documentary with zillions of stills and lots of footage. That was just never released on VHS that I know of.

    Of course things are changed now, but Back Then LD was a sweet thing. I got about 10 good years of use out of my $1000 LD player.

    LD ultimately failed because people didn't have the tolerance for disk-flipping, I think. It was also poorly marketed. DVDs succeeded because they are smaller, have less flipping, have better image/sound, and are usually less expensive too. I've switched to DVD and I have never looked back, though there are still some LDs that I continue to use -- Star Wars, for example.

    I will always miss that weird laser disc smell, though... the color printing on the jacket, and the plastic and adhesives of the disc... kind of like a new car smell. Good memories.
  • Everyone keeps comparing this drive to the 2.88MB drives. Perhaps the correct analogy would be to compare our current 700 MB CDRs to the once popular 720 KB floppies. If you'll recall, 720 KB floppies were eventually supplanted by the hugely popular 1.44 MB floppies, which edged out their predecessors despite "only" doubling capacity. Hmmm.

    And as others have pointed out, the DD-CD format has a useful niche already. They'd be great for VCDs, Terapin recordings, and DiVX:-) Furthermore, Sony's double-wide disks would be an ideal carrier for the Chinese DVD-patent-busting Super VCD [] format.

  • by suhit ( 171059 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @02:01PM (#223214) Homepage
    Another contender in the battle to become the de facto high-density storage medium for the digital world could come from US data storage specialist, C3D, in the shape of its revolutionary optical storage technology that promises to deliver capacities of 140GB and above on a single multilayer disc.

    With conventional optical disc drive technology signal quality degrades rapidly with the number of recording layers. This is principally because of optical interference - noise, scatter, and cross-talk resulting from the fact that the probing laser beam and the reflected signal are of the same wavelength and the nature of the highly coherent reflected signal used. The signal degradation exceeds acceptable levels with the result that no more than two recording layers are possible. However, with fluorescent readout systems, the quality degrades much more slowly, and C3D believes that up to 100 memory layers are feasible on a standard sized CD.

    The design of the discs is based on so-called 'stable photochrome', discovered by physicists and engineers in Russia. This is a transparent organic substance whose fluorescence can be triggered by a laser beam for sufficient time for it to be detected by a standard photoreceiver. This characteristic makes it possible to superimpose transparent layers on top of one another, and to 'write' information on each level.

    Once the fluorescence is stimulated by the laser light, both coherent and incoherent light are emitted. The latter has waves that are slightly out of step with each other, and the exploitation of this property is central to C3D's technology. The out-of-sync fluorescent light beams allow data to be read through different layers of the stacked transparent discs, one beam reading data from the top layer at the same time that others are penetrating it to read from lower layers. The result is the twin benefit of huge storage capacities and greatly improved data retrieval speeds.

    Well, just some information that I thought would be interesting to add.
  • Geez, look at you guys..
    "Can anything other than the dd-r drive play these? No? Well then it's a dead-end and will never be supported! fuck it!"

    uhm, scuse me?
    When dvd's first came out, how many times did I hear "Why can't we record on it? It's no good if we can't record on it! It'll never catch on!"

    (Not like I've recorded or even used my vcr in the past year..)

    If Sony doesn't fuck up the license terms for this, like they have with so many of their 'techs' (minidisc, memory stick, etc..), then many cd-rw drives will be able to incorperate this tech and it will be there if you need it.

    Hello? It uses the exact same lasers mcfly!
    The only diff is that they slow down the rotational speed and make the pits smaller.
    I bet cd/dd-rom drives (read only.. like cd-rom drives) would cost exactly $5-10 more than regular cd-rom drives.

    repeat after me, "It's all about the chips"
    Hell, I bet some drives could have a firmware upgrade to support this, as long as the program controlled the relevant parts.
    -since when did 'MTV' stand for Real World Television instead of MUSIC television?
  • This is the place that is selling it... hope the e-commerce site doesn't get slash-dotted... Click here... []
  • You could, I don't know, maybe try reading the linked-to article?

    I'll play nice and answer your questions though--

    * They aren't readable in normal CD-ROM drives.
    * I doubt a firmware upgrade will make them readable in DVD-ROM drives.

    Otherwise, the drive itself will read and write both CD-R, CD-RW as well as -R and -RW versions of this new format. So, compatibility aside, there's no real reason to pick another CD-R drive over this one since this one is priced almost the same. My only legitimate reason to hold off is that I'd like to buy a SCSI version of the drive. =)

  • Remind me, again, why I would possibly want this over one of the DVD-based formats?

    Easy. This is here right now. Writable and re-writable DVD media won't be here for some time (read: lots of standards fighting it out for your pocket book). The only VIABLE writable DVD medium so far is the one offered by Pioneer (which burns normal DVD-discs, AFAIK, no re-write capability).

    As for it being packaged only with Sony PC's, wrong again-- check Pricewatch for prices that are sure to make you wonder why you'd pay MORE for a CD-R only drive. It's a standard (sort of, Purple Book implies you can atleast license it or some such drivel), so it's likely other producers will adopt it since (based on the price of Sony's drive) it appears cheap to implement. Finally, where again is the need for a stand alone player, considering (had you read the article the story linked to) the Purple Book standard defines it as a DATA ONLY medium (no music formats ala Red Book). The only stand alone device you might want is a dedicated non-writable drive, and again, given the low price on Sony's offering, I don't see this being expensive to implement.

  • The layout of a DC disc is broken up into two tracks. The first track consists solely of a four second audio snip - any kind, even silence. The second track is simply a CD/XA data track using a standard ISO9660 file system with the first 16 sectors of the track used as a bootstrap.

    Incorrect. The first area is a low density, standard CD format of about 35 megs/4 mins. Then there's a space containing no data, and then the high density area begins (1Gig/112mins).

    The low density area must contain two tracks, a Mode 1 and a CDDA, both containing at least 4 seconds of data. The high density area must also contain two tracks, both Mode 1. The first of which must contain at least 4 seconds of data. The second high density Mode 1 track contains the bulk of the data.

    So basically, if you had a Gigabyte CD, you could make Dreamcast discs. GDROM discs are perfectly readable in standard CDROM drives; you need no special hardware to read them.

    Incorrect. When you insert a GD-ROM into a standard CD drive, what you see is the 35meg low density area only. You cannot read the high density area in a standard CD drive.

  • by BigumD ( 219816 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:25PM (#223238) Homepage
    Before we keep flaming sony for not adhereing to a standard (which is true in a lot of cases), the new drive does adhere to the proposed (and I believe certified) Purple Book [] specification. Now if wether or not someone else will adopt this, I don't know...
  • it's a real here--> []
  • Jesus, I just realized that the grammer in that post is worse than in the Zero Wing intro.
  • Overrated? It wasn't even rated... I need an easy way to post things without using this blasted karma bonus. The no score +1 deal would be even worse. And I'm not even a karma whore...
  • Eh? My +1 says "No Score +1 Bonus" and is always unchecked. I figured it would post at 3 and disallow moderation (for really inflammatory comments or something I guess). What a really need is a (score=1) button that just disallows any karma math yet still allows moderation. I realize I could post anon, but that shouldn't have to be the case.
  • by FastT ( 229526 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:46PM (#223246) Homepage Journal
    This is not the same as Sony's proprietary technologies that they keep pushing. If you bothered to read the article description, you'd notice that this is based on an ISO standard:
    ...capable of 1.3GB of data storage using the new Purple Book standard. Sony adapted the ISO 9660 format...
    This means you are very likely to see this in future products by other manufacturers.

    Although it's not clear just how this will be affected by various DVD initiatives, the reason to go for it is because it's standard, it's cheap (both for the drive and the media), and it's available. Eventually, I'd say you could expect certain classes of CD usage today to migrate to this technology. Just because we have DVDs today doesn't mean that manufacturers are going to abandon the CD format altogether. Even though we have CDRs, floppies are still useful. Eventually, we may see regualr CDs go the way of 768 KB floppies.

  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @02:43PM (#223250) Homepage Journal
    Aparently 'Purple Book []' is or will become an open standard. As far as I know, ONLY sony and philips have embraced it (as the co-authors, they'd better embrace it). The key to the success of this drive will be adoption of the standard. It really won't be much use without cross-vendor support (unless you want to use it within a closed system as backup media, which seems like a waste to me).

    I have not yet seen any other vendors developing drives to this standard, which means mass adoption by users is still a long way off. Let's hope for Sony's sake that they timed the introduction of this product well enough that it will not imediately be suplanted with lower cost DVD-ROM drives which should be coming out soon.

    As it is, this new drive seems to be the Ink Jet printer of the CD-ROM universe. Vary cheap hardware, on which the vendor either brakes even or takes a loss, then vary expensive media on which the manufacturer makes a killing.


  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @03:04PM (#223255) Homepage Journal
    If 700MB isn't enough, then 1.xGB won't be that great, either.
    One immediate application I can think of: Copying VCDs currently spread over 2 CDs (almost all of them) onto one 'DD' that plays without having to be swapped.

    Yeah, I know, not exactly groundbreaking, and a relatively small number of us use the format (I'm British and living in America temporarily, I'm buggered if I'm spending $25 a go on DVDs I wont be able to use back home, let alone be able to play legally on my Linux systems while I'm here) but this is one case where the DD format could be useful.

    Not exactly a "killer app" though is it? ;)

  • I think the problem with this super-media is it's price. Sure, you can go buy a DVD disc for $20, but when CD-Rs are running at $.20 a peice, why bother? I sure as hell am going for the cheap alternative, even if it takes me a tiny bit of exchange time. However, I'm never one to turn down new technologies. Then again, they said Rambus would be super-great too. So far, the benchmarks are saying otherwise.

  • by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @06:41PM (#223262) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I was one of the people in a group who worked on this technology (not at C3D -- don't know who they are, at another company).

    The photochrome is called bacteriorhodopsin, which is a seven helices protein with an attached retinal molecule. It's about 4 nm long. When exposed to 570 nm (yellow-green) light, it starts a cycle of definable photointermediates which vary from a few fractions of a picosecond to tens of milliseconds. There are also several latched or nested photocycles which can remain transient for years. Some genetic variants even have the capability to run several photocycles at once. It's quite a remarkable molecular engineering feat of nature via natural selection of billions of years fromthe tiny blue-green bacterium H. salarium (used internally for photosynthesis via proton pumping over the cell wall and internal membrane).

    Our group was able to create a bR coated CD which had over 500 layers of .8 nm pits (around 800MB-1 GB per layer). We were able to limit interference by way of a kind of two-photon absorption to select the layers and spot-test the data by measuring the amplitude of a specific spot on the disc when an absorbing wavelength (presumably) was emmited.

    The BER (bit error ratio) was around the rate of CDs, and with error correction, it was almost a usable mass storage drive. We attempted to get production funding, but we could only create a few working models for a few highly specilized companies mainly because of the cost of the laser. As I mentioned, bacteriorhodopsin is controlled by wavelength, and we needed at least 3 different wavelengths corresponding to the absorption maximums of the different photointermediates. This means blue (400 nm) for erase, yellow (570 nm) for page select and red (675 nm) for write/read.

    In our experiment, we used a single laser for all three wavelengths and we used optical parrametric ossciliation and frequency doubling/mixing to get the three colors using crystals, and we used a Q-switch to change colors in less than a few microseconds (e.g. access time). This was fairly complicated although the use of discrete components and a diode pump laser made the optical assembly as small as a large laser pointer. It was still costly as it required special optical crystals to do the OPO and frequency stuff. Currently, these crystals are expensive in low quantities, cheap in moderate quantities and expensive in high quantities because it is difficult to grow once the crystals get so large, and it isn't economical to grow tiny batches. For production, of course, we would need very large quantities and thus the drive wouldn't be cheap enough for the consumer market.

    There are alternatives, for example. A pure semiconductor solution utilizing multi-color diodes would be optimal. There is a company currently producing blue laser diodes, and soon green, but these are still expensive and don't have a high life. So, fundamentally, we were limited by other technologies.

    Currently, our group does have a production license from a major storage manufacture and we are developing a storage and processing device based on bacteriorhodopsin in solid form in sol-gel (aerogel) suspensions. This looks the most promising and it will be affordable to commercial markets as other solutions which provide the same features are much more expensive and have a much large footprint. We're likely to market to large datacenters and companies with lots of data which needs to be online in a fast and associative system, and where space is a concern.

    I really think there is going to be some great things in terms of storage technologies as soon as diodes and VCSELs bridge into more wavelengths (read: WDM will force this) and have faster switching times. As it is, we're only using a fraction of the several hundred thousand terahertz bandwidth of even a single wavelength, let alone more than one. Optical is definatly the way to go.

    Pretty cool stuff, especially when you see a movie playing off of something which was once only a thought and a proof-of-concept few bits in a lab.
  • by xkenny13 ( 309849 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:54PM (#223266) Homepage
    So, is this just a technology hack until DVD-RW prices come down? This drive seems like a steal with a $250 USD sticker compared to the recordable DVD options."

    With any luck, this is the technology hack that will force DVD-RW prices to come down!!

    Consider that if you were a DVD-RW manufacturer, you wouldn't want the public wasting their time falling more in love with their CD-R/RW formats instead of upgrading to your DVD-R/RW format, would you?

    Competition is supposed to be a good thing, right? A $250 price tag ($217 on Pricewatch!!) on this model really ought to rattle some cages over on the DVD-side of the street. Let's hope this helps knock some of those DVD prices down to more acceptable levels. :-)

  • by Canonymous Howard ( 325660 ) on Monday May 14, 2001 @01:27PM (#223268)
    Rats. I was holding out for the Blue With Pink Stripe Book standard.

    Or maybe Bluish Green With a Hint of Yellow Book.
  • I burn a lot of VCDs lately, but I'm definitely not interested in this drive. I went out and got a set-top DVD player that I was certain could play back from regular CDR media and also CDRW media. It would be worthless for this kind of disk. All the regular CD drives I use read regular 650 or 700 MB disks that I can burn.

    Sorry, this reeks of proprietary. It'll die the way 2.88 MB floppy disks died. Good riddance.
  • So we have a "HD" CD-RW drive.. which is great, except that the media will only read in the same drive, or others like it. This makes every CDROM, audio CD player, etc obsolete which really isn't a good thing. I think it would be nice if the Purple Book Standard was developed to be downwards compatible .. ie: the DD CDs would be readable - at least in part - by existing 650-700MB drives.
    You see, if you went out and bought a nice fast 52x CDROM yesterday, spent the money, and then you get one of these drives, then what use is it? I've got 2 CDROMs in most of my machines, but this means I'd have to have a $250USD drive in each.
    Oh, and the only thing the extra space would be good for would be Audio, MP3, MPEG, DiVX, etc. If you've got an MP3 player (portable.. not on your PC) then you couldn't use the extra space.
    Anyways, though Sony does come out with some very very decent stuff, I think this new drive is just like the MiniDisc. Extra features (more space, higher quality) but after a while some equipment will support one standard and the rest will support the other standard. It won't affect most people because major computer manufacturers will not use one type (who knows which standard they'll pick). Either way, the DD-R media had better be less than 2x the price of a normal CD-R and easy to get... otherwise the format will fall on it's face.

    "Life is a donut.. it goes around and around, but there is always a hole in the center."
    - Anonymous

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.