Will a plus add up to a minus for DVD technology users?

As if there aren't already enough standards'DVD-recordable, DVD-rewritable and DVD-RAM'a group led by Philips Electronics NV and Sony Corp. is working to establish a competing suite of standards characterized by a + in the name, such as DVD+R and DVD+RW.

At Comdex, Dell Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. executives said their companies would use DVD+ drives in computers.

Buyers of DVD-writing equipment have to wonder whether the disks will work in a variety of players, both current and future. DVD+ proponents contend their format makes it easier to do on-disk editing in rewrite mode, as opposed to editing on a hard drive, then transferring back to the RW optical medium.

'Demand is booming, but the industry needs seamless usage between the PC and consumer electronics worlds,' said Frank Simonis, a Philips product development manager. He said the new DVD+ standard is the answer because it requires only one type of disk for all applications and environments.

Nonsense, countered Tony Jasionowski, group manager for R&D planning at Panasonic Technologies Co. of Secaucus, N.J. He is active in the DVD Forum, a standards-setting group of DVD manufacturers from which the Philips-led group seceded.

Most existing DVD recording drives are referred to as minus products, stemming from the hyphen used in their terminology, as in DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM. But, Jasionowski said, because the existing standards already are accepted worldwide, they have a leg up on the new plus standards proposed by the splinter group.

'Government likes the fact that DVD is an international standard,' he said.

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