Rewriteable DVDs: Are they really coming?

At last year's Comdex, we reported on the barrage of hype surrounding rewriteable DVD devices in their various proposed incarnations. Everyone said their products were imminent, ready to roll, and better than the other guys' offerings. Turns out everybody but Pioneer was lying to us. Nearly a year later, only Pioneer has rewriteable DVD drives on the market, and those drives cost upwards of $500.

Last year when we met with Pioneer, we relayed that the DVD+RW camp was claiming they would have devices on the market in six months. The Pioneer rep's reaction: "Yeah, their products were only six months away at last year's Comdex, too."

Comdex is approaching again, and the early buzz from the contract PR firms is about—you guessed it—rewriteable DVD drives of various flavors. Are they for real this time? One member of the DVD+RW vapor consortium, HP, apparently thinks so; they're pulling out of the CD-RW market, supposedly to concentrate on rewriteable DVDs. I'll believe it when I see it.

Other members of said consortium, like Sony, have a corporate interest in keeping such products out of the mass market. Sony Pictures has to appreciate the job Sony Electronics has done erecting a vapor barrier to block the rewriteable DVD market.

All I want is to be able to drop $149 on a drive that will let me make a full system backup on a couple of DVDs. As computer storage capacities grow large enough to hold just about anything you could digitize, apparently that's too much to ask.

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