The optical storage scene has been pretty stagnant ever since the huge introduction of the 16x write speed for both DVD-R and DVD+R formats almost half a year ago. Although the write speed was revolutionary and has kept us busy for a rather lengthy period of time (when it comes to testing the various optical drives and media), breakthroughs have mostly been limited to nothing more than announcements of the next major leap in optical storage. In fact, the two new write speeds we are looking at today were only approved sometime back in September this year and were mere announcements back then as well.
Occupying the headlines for the past few months were waves after waves of news, politically and propagandistically toned if you will, that pertains to the next generation of DVD optical storage formats based on blue laser technology. The two frontrunners here are the HD-DVD and the Blu-ray standard, capable of 20GB (for recordable discs) and 54GB respectively. Recent news of support by four major Hollywood studios (New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios) has tipped the scale a little towards the HD-DVD camp. But the fight for standard supremacy is still far from over as Blu-ray has just bagged its own group of supporters from the likes of Walt Disney Company and Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
On the topic of optical storage standards, both Taiwan and China have also been hard at work in establishing their own DVD standards named FVD (Forward Versatile Disc) and EVD (Enhanced Versatile Disc) respectively. These formats offer limited storage capacity as a result of the red laser that is still being used to power these standards. Thus, the storage capacities offered by these standards would not be in the same league as the two blue laser driven formats mentioned earlier. Interestingly though, the existence of these standards is a stark reminder of the many formats courting after the same market, the movie industry. Inescapably, this is the shape of things to come in the foreseeable future, bringing with it various choices and formats which consumers ultimately would need to decide. The format wars bring choices, but they are also a stumbling block for broad adoption. Obviously, no one wants to be caught with the 'Betamax' of the DVD world but that may be inevitable for some, judging from how things are going right now.
Anyway, before we deviate further, let's channel our attention back to the review of the LG GSA-4163B drive which introduces new write speeds for the two predominant DVD rewritable formats. Incidentally, the LG GSA-4163B is also the first DVD writer in our lab to support these new write specifications.