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Sony, NEC to Merge Optical Drive Teams 92

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the friction-waiting-to-happen dept.
illeism writes to tell us The Register is reporting that Sony and NEC are planning on merging their optical drive divisions. From the article: "Sony will be the bigger of the two stakeholders in the joint venture. It will own 55 per cent of Sony NEC Optiarc, to NEC's 45 per cent. Indeed, the JV will be run by Sony staffer Shinichi Yamamura, currently deputy president of Sony's Video Business Group."
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Sony, NEC to Merge Optical Drive Teams

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  • HD vs Blu (Score:4, Informative)

    by Brushfireb (635997) * on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:43PM (#14814290)
    The move may pave the way for reconciliation between the two next-generation optical disc formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD.

    I guess that means that Sony has learned since the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betamax [wikipedia.org]Betamax Fiasco

    Although, in this case, I would tend to think that Sony buying their standards competitor, would mean that their Blu-Ray will win. Unless someone else wants to take up the HD DVD cause...
    • They aren't merging with Toshiba. They are still the main force behind HD DVD. I won't buy either format as long as they are DRM crippled.
    • I don't know about that, necessarily. Last time this story appeared on Slashdot, it did so under the title "Sony May Sell HD-DVDs" [slashdot.org].

      It's true, however, that it would only have been 10% less accurate--and about that much less inflammatory--to have said "NEC May Sell Blu-Rays."
    • I guess that's why in 1990 they bought MGM, so they could provide their own stable of content regardless of vendor support. Just look at the success of the UMD movie. It's a hugely profitable business for Sony, because they profit on the entire operation from end to end, from device to media. That's the idea with the BlueRay technology. The only reason I see for Sony to merge with NEC is to gain a foothold in a unified standard, and to lower their BlueRay drive manufacturing costs.
  • So?

    Stop the presses! I'm going to take a leak.
  • by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous@yaho ... m minus math_god> on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:46PM (#14814307) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if this will mean a reconciliation between the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats or just that the joint venture will end up building multi-format players. I'm probably oversimplifying things, but it seems that multiformat has been the way the industry has gone in recent years... look at all the 7-in-1 card readers, DVD burners that support both DVD-R and DVD+R, etc. Would have been nice if Beta/VHS multiformat VCRs had become the standard way back when.

    • Unfortunately for us i dont think you're going to see a HD-DVD/Blu-ray combo drive anytime soon. The laser technology is completely different between the two, unlike the fiasco with DVD-R/+R as this was more of a data layout issue, not a change in wavelength (at least to my knowledge). those drives that are going to be multifunction are going to require 2 sets of optics, and i'll give you one guess as to what the most expensive part of a CD/DVD system is. This is why HD-DVD has yet another advantage over th
      • The laser technology is completely different between the two

        Both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD use 405nm blue light. The lasers are identical. You will need a different focussing lens for each disk, since they have different data densities (15GB Vs 25GB per platter). Most of the optical system, however, can be shared between the two drives. Both types of drive are expected to read DVDs and CDs as well, however, which requires a 650nm red laser as well.

        If both sides are planning on manufacturing dual-laser sy

        • You will need a different focussing lens for each disk

          Not necessecarily. The distance between the lens and the data is the key, because you really want to focus your laser as tightly as possible regardless of format. It's the physical media that distorts the beam and reduces the density in HD-DVD, not the lens. BluRay gets around this by placing the data layer much closer to the surface, making the disc more expensive and holding more data without making the drive more expensive.
    • look at all the 7-in-1 card

      7-in-1? How old school. A quick browse through my fav webshop shows 8-in-1 to 10-in-1 and rising. Top claim goes to a 29-in-1 reader which supports the following:

      Secure Digital (SD) Card
      Multi Media Card (MMC) Card
      Multi Media Card (MMC 4.0)
      Reduced-Sized Multi Media Card (RS-MMC) Card
      Reduced-Sized Multi Media Card (RS-MMC 4.0)
      Secure Digital (SD)Ultra II
      Secure Digital (SD) Extreme
      Memory Stick (MS) Card
      MS-DUO Card
      MS-PRO Card
      MS-PRO DUO Card
      MS-Magic Gate Card
      MS-PRO Magic Gate Card
      MS-DUO
    • I think it means Sony is hedging their bets.
  • And will the rootkit now come directly from the drive, before you ever insert a CD/DVD?
    • Re:Extra features (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:52PM (#14814332)
      No, it will be supplied as a driver for Windows Vista. Don't bother looking, it won't show up in Task Manager.
    • Its funny that slashdot is filled with continual microsoft bashers and people that keep bashing sony for a rootkit that only runs on microsoft OSes, I mean, if your gonna bash windows, why are you useing it, and if your not using it, why do you care about a problem that only affects it? Blab on about civil libertys, but a corperation can not take them from you, only the goverment can by making laws like the dmca that make reclaiming your liberties illiegal. I say instead of boycotting sony, boycott the u.s.
      • people that keep bashing sony for a rootkit that only runs on microsoft OSes

        BD-ROM drives will probably have fully working drivers only for Microsoft operating systems.

        I say instead of boycotting sony, boycott the u.s.

        How do you suggest that I find a decent job and learn another language (I'm past the so-called critical period) so that I can emigrate?

      • Its funny that slashdot is filled with continual microsoft bashers and people that keep bashing...

        They're called "trolls". By the way, welcome :)
  • Time to break down and buy a new NEC dvd writer before they are jacked up the ass with DRM restrictions
  • Is this the first step toward a drive that plays HD DVD and Blu-Ray? Is this even possible?
    • More likely just Sony trying to shore up its sagging position with Blue-Ray.
    • Is this the first step toward a drive that plays HD DVD and Blu-Ray? Is this even possible?

      Yes. Really, all you need is different lasers to read the surface - all the rest of the hardware is there to spin the disc, and manage communication on the bus, etc. Once you've got to the point of "I read these 0s and 1s from the disc", drives are identical. (Probably an oversimplification, but valid in principle.)

      We currently have DVD+R and DVD-R combo drives, and IIRC these formats are as distinct as HD-DVD an

      • Yes. Really, all you need is different lasers to read the surface

        That's old info.

        BluRay and HD-DVD are almost identical on the drive side now. BluRay ditched the caddy, and HD-DVD went to a blue laser. Both format use the same laser now. The big differences are all in the construction of the media.
  • Prepare to pay twice as much for future NEC optical drives. :(
    • why twice more? A Sony drive isn't any more expensive than an NEC drive.

      In fact, I just did a pricecheck on Newegg.com and found a Sony for $38.99 while an NEC was almost one dollar more $39.75

  • Sony currently uses Lite-On as the OEM for most of their DVD drives (some older ones are Ricohs; and a few are even Sonys). I suppose this means that they won't be doing so for much longer.

    Looks like CDFreaks will have to rename their Lite-On/Sony Drive Forum [cdfreaks.com] soon.

    • I'm surprised to see this on /. since I clearly remember news of this merger making waves at the CD Freaks forums many months ago.

      Anyway, so the forum is still named that? Renaming the forum was seriously discussed a long ago when Sony started using BenQ and again when Sony-NEC was announced, so I'm a bit surprised that it still hasn't changed. Wow. Hehe. ;)
      • Actually, your memory is probably better than mine on this, as I only drop by CDFreaks on occasion (usually when I'm looking for something specific, like Firmware news, or reviews of a drive I'm considering). That particular link was the serendipitous result of me Googling "Sony Lite-On OEM DVD" because I no longer trust my memory worth a damn, and wanted to make sure that I hadn't just imagined that Sony rebranded Lite-On drives.

        What I should have done, of course, was simply declare my assertion withou
  • Both formats are obsolete compared to HVD which already has working equipment. Expect to see it on the market in June 06' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_Versatile _Disc [wikipedia.org]
  • by spectre_240sx (720999) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @12:51AM (#14814595) Homepage
    Would it have been so hard to just type "joint venture"?
  • this can't be good... NEC makes excellent inexpensive drives.. Sony putting their hands on that only means new expensive drives bundled with DRM and rootkits...
  • ...called a takeover?
  • So now NEC gonna suck! You know the old addage "Mix 10 pounds of Ice Cream and 10 pounds of Sh!t and you get 20 pounds of Sh!t."

    P.S. An RCA rep I know usually says "Sony, just another 4 letter word begining with S"
  • Optiarc? (Score:2, Funny)

    by dubl-u (51156) *
    Wow, Optiarc is a terrible name. Perhaps we could get them to call it Optigrab?
  • Just because Sony is merging with NEC doesn't mean DRM for all. I have a nice Lite-on dvd writer I've been using for about a year and a half, and it has a chip MADE BY SONY. And, get this, IT HAS NO DRM WHATSOEVER EMBEDDED. Seriously, things aren't this bad. Yet.
    • IT HAS NO DRM WHATSOEVER EMBEDDED.

      Two words: Region Coding.

      This line placed here to defeat the lameness filter.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This merger was announced November 17th, 2005. It's OLD news.

    http://www.necus.com/companies/11/NECCORP_NEC_SONY DiskDrives.pdf [necus.com]

    Thanks Scuttle Monkey! With some work, you will eventually find a calendar and learn it's now 2006.
  • Are we talking about computer equipment here? 'Cos almost all Sony drives are LiteOn OEMs (with occasional BTC model). At least I have not seen a true Sony drive for.... ever?
  • This is not so much about blu-ray vs HD-DVD, but more about the fact that optical storage technology is becoming increasingly irrelevant. These kind of scale-increasing joint ventures are typical of a dinosaur business.

    Lacking a major technological breakthrough that would make optical storage more attractive than other solutions like hard disks, flash memory and network systems, there will be no successor for Blu-ray and/or HD-DVD.

    When CD-ROMs came out, one CD had 10 times the storage capacity of a typical
    • Umm, are you really so sure about that?

      Yes, HDs have far more capacity. They are also fragile, expensive and usually fairly large for decent size. Carrying a portable HD around (other than in something like an iPod) is a royal pain, and last I checked iPod sized drives don't store that much more than Blu-ray.

      As far as streaming, until FIOS shows up everywhere get real. It might work for office programs, but not games or high-def video. I've got 1.5Mbps DSL at home and decided to try out the Everquest2

  • by BestNicksRTaken (582194) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @04:57AM (#14815159)
    Sony's the one that's going to benefit from this, as they couldn't make a DVD burner to save their lives, NEC however is top of the market (especially with the hacked firmwares) along with BenQ.

    Could make life difficult for other vendors who rebadge NEC drives.

    Of course, this does mean that we can't buy NEC anymore because it's giving money to Big Bad, so better head off and grab a few ND-4551's before the takeover.
  • Ugh. (Score:3, Funny)

    by beavis88 (25983) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:23AM (#14815876)
    I like my NEC DVD writers - cheap, reliable, and very quiet. I assume that at the very least the "cheap" part will change, and if we're lucky, we'll get some bonus "DRM up the ass" to boot.
  • I don't get it. What "optical division" does Sony really have? They've just been re-branding OEM drives (Lite-on) for the last decade.

    I suppose they've been making Blu-ray drives on their own, but I'm sure they'll just be re-branding OEM drives in a short while, when the price on next-gen drives drops to reasonable prices.

    I get the feeling Sony is just finding a creative way of cutting their losses in the PC market.

  • Does this mean that I'll have to upgrade by TurboGrafx-16 system to a Sony Playstation?
  • Now I can look forward to seeing Sony's ultra-low standard of quality in my I-bought-it-to-get-rid-of-my-Sonys DVD drives.
  • Anyone know if this is related to the Blue-Ray consortium's unresolved issues that are delaying the receipt of my PS3?
    • Apparently so as one of the next posts this morning is the announcement by Sony of a Blue-Ray timeframe.
  • This blows....Guess I'll have to get a few before Sony jacks up the price just because some board room schmuck wants too!

    If I'm gonna pay more for a drive, give me Plextor before Sony !!
  • Have any of you losers actually learnt how to use a search engine? At least have a browse around and learn a little before blowing of at the mouth about loser comments like everything that is wrong in the world is Sony's fault ? Here is a little piece from the DRM site :- The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in the United States in an effort to make the circumvention of DRM systems illegal. It was passed without debate, and without even token opposition, Congress being lobbied by the content ind
    • "Now since Microsoft and Quite a few other American companies use and promote DRM how did it become only Sony's ?"

      Because they were caught installing spyware and rootkits on their customers' PCs.

      In addition, they tried to lie and deny, but the evidence was overwhelming, and they responded by basically going "if people don't know that there's spyware on their computers it won't hurt them".

      They screwed up big time, and the consequences are that I and many others will point out Sony's spyware fiasco as

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