Manufacturers will still have some leeway to charge higher prices for dual-layer DVD burning capabilities, but for many, a DVD burner will become a commodity product later this fall. For the first time in more than a decade, moreover, the optical storage industry also won’t have a clear-cut path leading toward a next-generation storage medium.
As always, a problem for drive makers is a boon for consumers. Take, for example, the fate of the CD writer: several years ago, the ability to burn a CD could command well over a hundred dollars. Today, a high-end internal CD burner can be purchased for as little as $40. The shift won’t happen overnight, manufacturers said, but the writing is on the wall.
The problem, once again, is spindle speed. Six years ago, the CD-ROM drive began running into physical limitations at 32X speeds, and manufacturers said then that they were phasing out their products to jump to next-generation DVD-ROM drives. That transition actually occurred somewhat later, as “40X” and “52X” drives were developed, combining marketing hype with new motors that compensated for the wobble the high-speed discs produced. Rewritable CD media also prolonged the format, allowing consumers to burn their own discs for archiving.
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