Toshiba develops laptop HD DVD writer drive

On Tuesday Toshiba will unveil the first slim-type HD DVD writer drive suitable for use in laptop computers.

The SD-L902A drive is the standard 12.7-millimeters high, which means it can fit in the drive bay of most laptop computers. It can read and write HD DVD, DVD and CD discs, Toshiba said Monday.

It will be shown at the Ceatec show, Japan’s biggest electronics show, which begins Tuesday. At last year’s Ceatec, Toshiba debuted its slim-type HD DVD reader. The first laptop to feature the drive, its Qosmio G30, went on sale earlier this year.

Samples of the new writer drive will be available to PC makers by the end of this year, and if it follows the same path as the read-only model it could be on sale in laptops in 2007.

HD DVD is one of two formats battling to replace DVD as the de facto storage standard for high-definition movies. In addition to their home entertainment applications the discs can also be used to store data. A single-sided HD DVD-R can store 15GB of data. A disc for the competing Blu-ray Disc format can store 25GB on a single-side.

This year’s Ceatec is expected to see the unveiling of several new products for the two new formats. The show will kick-off with a Sony news conference at which the company is promising a new Blu-ray Disc product. Sony hasn’t said what it will be but the company recently showed a prototype Blu-ray Disc video recorder. A similar prototype recorder was also recently displayed by Hitachi.

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