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OSTA Approves CD-R and CD-RW MultiPlay Specifications

New Specification Will Assure that CD-R and CD-RW Discs Written on PCs Will Play in Consumer CD and DVD Players

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) today announced the release of a new CD compatibility specification called MultiPlay for the computer and consumer industries. The new specification is intended to assure that Compact Disc Recordable (CD-R) and Compact Disc ReWritable (CD-RW) discs created on personal computers can be played in consumer CD and DVD players. MultiPlay is targeted at manufacturers of consumer CD/DVD players as well as computer CD recording software providers and media manufacturers.

The MultiPlay concept was proposed by Oak Technology, Inc. and was completed and adopted by OSTA at its December meeting. "The MultiPlay effort builds on OSTA's successful MultiRead compatibility specification, which in the past three years has accomplished full compatibility of CD-R and CD-RW discs in essentially all computer-based CD or DVD devices," said Felix Nemirovsky, chairman of the OSTA MultiRead Subcommittee. "MultiPlay will in a similar way accomplish much needed CD-R and CD-RW disc compatibility in consumer CD and DVD players."

There has been recent dramatic growth of CD-RW drive adoption by computer users, fueled by the low price and widespread availability of CD-R and CD-RW discs. However, consumers have found that audio or video discs written on a PC using CD-R or CD-RW media cannot always be played in consumer CD or DVD players. All CD and DVD players available to the consumer clearly state that they are designed to play audio Compact Discs. However, consumers expect that regardless of the type of CD/DVD player (home, handheld, car) it should play all types of audio discs. It is a great disappointment to consumers to discover that they cannot play a CD-R or CD-RW written audio disc in some CD or DVD players.

The MultiPlay logo will enable consumers to recognize CD or DVD players that can utilize CD-R and CD-RW discs as readily as they utilize pressed discs. CD players designed to play audio discs may apply this MultiPlay logo to signify that they are capable of audio playback on CD-R and CD-RW discs as well. Similarly, DVD players which can play pressed DVD movie discs or CD audio discs may apply this MultiPlay logo to signify their capability to play audio on CD-R and CD-RW discs. A large number of CD and DVD players can also play CD-Text audio discs and VideoCD Movie discs. The new specification defines the following requirements for a consumer CD/DVD player to be MultiPlay capable:

    * CD Players capable of only CD Audio must play CD Audio on CD-R and CD-RW
      discs.

    * CD Players capable of CD Audio and  CD-Text must play CD Audio and
      CD-Text on CD-R and CD-RW discs.

    * DVD Players capable of only CD Audio (besides DVD Movie), must play
      CD Audio on CD-R and CD-RW disc.

    * DVD Players capable of CD Audio and VideoCD must play CD Audio and
      VideoCD on CD-R and CD-RW discs.

For further information, please refer to the OSTA MultiPlay compatibility specification and test plan, available at www.osta.org/multiplay.

The current MultiPlay specification includes Red Book Audio (standard uncompressed digital audio), CD-Text and VideoCD as the initial formats covered by the compatibility specification. Some CD and DVD players are also capable of playing Compressed Digital Audio file formats such as MP3 or WMA written to CD-R or CD-RW discs. To address these compressed audio formats, OSTA has defined a new logical disc format called CDA (Compressed Digital Audio) to ensure quick playability and navigation of MP3, WMA and other compressed audio files. The CDA disc format will bring consumers the quick access they expect.

OSTA reviewed the first proposed draft of the CDA disc format specification last week. It intends to complete development of this disc specification by working together with industry software and player manufacturers. The first display of the new disc format is planned at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 5-10, 2001. Completion of the CDA disc specification is targeted for March 2001, when it will be available for licensing and inclusion in the MultiPlay logo program.

OSTA intends to license the MultiPlay logo to consumer electronic device manufacturers, CD media manufacturers and CD recording software manufacturers on a royalty-free basis. The logo license will grant the right to apply the MultiPlay logo upon successful self-certification of products with MultiPlay test discs provided by OSTA. The licensee will pay a one-time fee for the test discs and logo license and must comply with the licensing rules.

Consumers will benefit greatly from the improved compatibility because more and more consumers have access or ability to record CDs. Thus, the consumer will be enabled to play not only commercially available content but also personal content such as personal compilation audio discs made from their own library of commercial audio discs. Compressed Audio stored on the consumers' PC can also be recorded on CD-R and CD-RW discs. Personal pictures downloaded from digital cameras or scanners can be recorded onto such CDs and played in MultiPlay capable DVD or VideoCD players. Furthermore, personal video compressed to MPEG1 format or downloaded from some MPEG1 video cameras can be recorded on CDs and played in MultiPlay capable DVD or VideoCD players.

Many recently produced DVD players now have the ability to play back MP3 or WMA files. However, these players sometimes lack the ease of use of an audio CD when playing CD-R or CD-RW discs with MP3 or WMA files. Due to lack of standard format, discs containing MP3 or WMA files made in today's PCs with standard CD recording software often exhibit long initialization times and lead to a poor user experience. For example, a typical DVD player can take 2-3 minutes after inserting such a disc before it can play any MP3 or WMA files, compared to a few seconds for an audio CD. Additionally, on a PC recorded CD-R or CD-RW disc, there is no way to know which is the first MP3 or WMA file or what the order of playback should be. A MultiPlay compatible consumer CD/DVD player will be able to start playing such a discs within seconds of inserting it in the player. Furthermore, CD-Text capable CD/DVD players will be able to display the names of artists and song titles and navigate the hundreds of MP3 or WMA files easily by selecting play lists or other criteria.

About OSTA

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) was incorporated as an international trade association in 1992 to promote the use of recordable optical technologies and products. The organization's membership includes optical product manufacturers and resellers from three continents, representing more than 85 percent of worldwide writable optical product shipments. They work to shape the future of the industry through regular meetings of CD/DVD, file interchange, market development, high performance and planning committees. Interested companies worldwide are invited to join the organization and participate in its programs by contacting an OSTA representative at +1 805/963-3853, by fax +1 805/962-1541 or by addressing its Web site at www.osta.org.

SOURCE: Optical Storage Technology Association




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