Everyone is now delivering 16x DVD burners at unbelievably low prices. Rushing to keep pace, the leading media manufacturers deliver the high-speed +/-R media as quickly as the formats and specifications are approved.
But, according to most senior engineering types we've finally reached the upper performance limit for single-sided 4.7GB media. There are discussions of jumping the speed to 18x/20x but among most content professionals there is always a concern about the integrity of the written data at excessively high speeds. They usually write content at a much slower speed so they maintain the highest possible quality.
While this exploration is going on, the media industry leaders were ramping up Double layer media production, Verbatim lead the pack on delivering the 16x discs. The initial 2x ¨CR and 2.4x +R media has already been certified for 4 and 5x speeds. You have to wonder if the media coatings and processes were so robust at the outset if the media can be expanded to 8x without having to go back to the lab.
Now all of the major disc producers ¨CVerbatim, MKM and others ¨C are delivering 16x media and a few other firms have begun their DL production ramps even though the media even though only product from the two firms mentioned has been certified by the authorization group. The big difference is that the big volume burner producers are shipping 4x and 5x DL units and have already certified Verbatim's DL discs for these write speeds. There is some speculation that the discs were so over designed that it may be possible to write the 8.5GB discs at 8x. That would mean significant savings if they don't have to come up with new dyes, chemistries and processes.
One concept that will probably never emerge from the research groups is quad layer discs (15GB). The big challenges would be backward read comparability (probably won't happen) or simply encourage consumers to move on to new players. Of course they could simply put the project on the shelf and focus on the burners and media we'll begin seriously buying in 2006.
The major thing the industry analysts forget --as do the hardware/media manufacturers -- is that people don't immediately jump on every ˇ°new generationˇ± or next greatest thing. So those Blu or HD burners may take years to become accepted except with the early adopters (you know those people who have one of every new/obsolete tech toy). Two hours of personal video from a DVD is a lot. 30 minutes of a kid's ballet recital on SVCD is excruciating. 24 hours of music on a single disc is ˇ°like way cool!ˇ±
Even with the rising ˇ°no-nameˇ± production coming out of China the demand for the two classes of CD and DVD media continues to grow. The classes? Cheap stuff starting as low as $0.07 - $0.15 for CDR and not much more for the stuff they call DVDR. Brand media that have the reputation and distribution channels to maintain their lead and modest margins.
The quality media and bottom feeders are making it extremely difficult for those in the middle to survive. Expect to see factories close in both Taiwan and China this coming year when people buy in two categories. First there will be the ultra high speed single layer media and high speed DL (+/-) that will be economical and in volume from the brand name suppliers. Then there will be the slow speed, cheap media that only works in older burners/recorders. The in-between questionable stuff will sell for awhile but without the infrastructure, technology expertise and relationships the middle will painfully disappear even as sales volumes continue to rise.