Rewritable DVD Standards War Breaks Out

Sony, Philips and Hewlett-Packard are not playing nice. The three have split from other members of the DVD Forum group to develop an alternative rewritable optical disc format. The triumvirate claims their 3-GB spec is superior to the 2.6-GB spec agreed upon by the 10-member Forum. The announcement particularly annoyed other manufacturers in the group, notably Matsushita and Toshiba, as they have drives based on the original spec that are currently in production. The Technical Working Group (TWG), an industry trade group, is expected to step in and force a format reunification as it did in 1995, when Sony and Philips battled Toshiba, Matsushita and others over different format specs.

Many consumers, especially video producers, are awaiting the arrival of affordable drives for DVD that can copy high-resolution source material from computers, digital satellite systems and DV camcorders.


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Pinnacle Buys miro

Pinnacle Systems announced on July 22 that the company had signed a letter of intent to purchase miro Computer Products, maker of the DC10, DC20, and DC30 video capture cards. miro’s stock was low at the time of the announcement. Pinnacle is known for the VideoDirector product line, and the miro acquisition will strengthen the Pinnacle line of DV products. The reported purchase price is approximately $15 million in cash and $5 million in Pinacle Systems common stock.

miro’s European engineering and manufacturing operations will continue to be managed from Germany, as part of Pinnacle Systems, as will the sales and distribution operations in Europe and Asia. Pinnacle will merge the North American organization into its facility in Mountain View, California.

He Must be a Videomaker Reader

"Millions of people have camcorders and make videos of their kids or their vacations. But to edit video right now you have to be a professional with expensive equipment. This will change. … PC software for editing film and creating special effects will become as commonplace as desktop publishing software. At that point the difference between professionals and amateurs will be one of talent and craft rather than access to tools."

–Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (Penguin Books, 1996)

C-Cube Unveils First Recording/Playback Video Chip

A maker of specialty computer chips has introduced what it says is the first video chip that can both record and play back MPEG-2 video. The DVX chip, made by C-Cube Microsystems, can replace up to three chips currently used to record and play back digital video. Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) systems and DVD players use the MPEG-2 format now. Putting encoding and decoding operations on a single chip means that low-cost DVD cameras and recorders will soon appear on the market.

Christine Cadwell, C-Cube’s Product Marketing Manager, predicts that digital VCRs should hit the consumer market in 1999, followed by disc-based camcorders in 2000. JVC is reportedly testing the DVX chip now for possible future products. Other chip makers such as Intel, IBM and LSI Logic are also developing similar chips but they have not progressed as far as C-Cube.

Hitachi Maxell to Make Mini DV Tapes

Hitachi Maxell Ltd. will begin producing Mini DV camcorder tapes this year, company officials announced. As many owners of DV camcorders have grumbled, demand for tapes is far outpacing supply. Domestic sales of Mini DV tapes in 1997 are expected to double from 1996 levels, to 7.8 million units.

The tape manufacturer has been marketing under its own brand name tapes manufactured by other companies. Currently, only JVC, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Panasonic‘s parent) and Sony Corp. make the tapes. TDK Corp. is planning to enter the market this autumn.

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