Toshiba Debuts HD DVD Writer, Backup Drives

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No sooner does La Cie announce a Blu-ray disc burner for computers than the primogenitor of the HD DVD formatToshiba decides its dear HD DVD format can’t be seen as lagging. So, Toshiba has announced (PDF) its SD-H903A HD DVD burner for PCs.

The standard-height SATA units will be able to both read and writer HD DVD media, as well as standard DVD and CD discs. Unfortunately, the burn time for single-layer or dual-layer HD DVD media is a pokey 1× so anyone looking to back up their video or data to HD DVD discs had better be patient or very good with their scheduling. The SD-H903A writes DVD and CDs at slightly more contemporary speeds—8× for most DVD formats (4× for DVD-RW, 2.4× for DVD±R DL, and 3× for DVD-RAM), while CDs top out at 10× and 16×—but the unit isn’t going to be pushing any bandwidth barriers. Nonetheless, it is the first dedicated HD DVD write-capable drive for desktop PCs, and it’s a start. No pricing information is available, but sample shipments to manufacturers should start later this month.

In the meantime, Toshiba has also decided to enter the personal storage market with a series of 2.5-inch, USB 2.0 external hard drives in 100, 120, and 160 GB capacities (PDF). The drives are powered via USB—no separate AC adapter—and are bundled with the NTI Shadow backup software which autmatically runs in the background, automatically saving updated files to the external drive. (Shadow is available for both Mac OS X and Windows; no word on whether both versions will ship with Toshiba’s drives, but the drive specs claim Mac OS X compatibility.) The drives sport black aluminum cases, a blue power indicator light, and measure 5.6 inches long 3.5 inches across, and less than one inch tall. Expect the drives to reach market during the first quarter of 2007 with prices starting at $139.

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