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New Toshiba HD DVD writer

Although some companies are on the verge of introducing players that support both formats of high-definition video disc, there are still plenty of partisans sticking to their side of the fence.

One such is Toshiba , which this morning announced a welcome addition to the HD DVD ranks - the world's first HD DVD writer for desktop PCs.

Toshiba's SD-H903A HD DVD writer will begin production later this month and uses an S-ATA interface to slot into a desktop computer in a standard-size drive bay. The drive can write data to HD DVD-R discs, including both 15GB single- and 30GB dual-layer discs, and all of the many kinds of writable DVD and CD.

Disc authoring aside, the H903A can also read pretty much any format of optical disc from CD-ROM up aside, naturally, from Blu-ray.

The component that allows such flexibility is a blue-violet laser diode that manages the entire gamut of reading and writing using an optical pickup head with a single objective lens.

It had previously been thought that backward compatibility would require two sets of pickups, one for blue-laser based discs and one for the red-laser family that includes DVDs and CDs. The price of the new drive has yet to be announced. J Mark Lytle