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Sony may test hybrid DVD/CDs in UK

DualDisc trial to follow broader US roll-out

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Sony Music International is deciding whether to test-launch DualDisc DVD/CD hybrids in the UK following a successful trial in the US and the formal approval of the format by the DVD Forum.

DualDisc essentially involves sticking a CD onto the back of the DVD Video or DVD Audio disc. The CD Audio layer is thinner than a Compact Disc, to ensure the DualDisc falls within the DVD specification thickness of 1.5mm.

DualDisc was devised as a way of adding backward compatibility to new audio disc format. For the labels, that allows them to ship a single product rather than separate DVD Audio and CD releases, and ensures consumers can build second-generation audio collections before they switch to new hardware.

They will be able to play, say, higher quality DVD Audio content at home and use the same disc to play the same music in their car's CD player.

All the major recording companies have tested the format in the US' Boston and Seattle areas, but Sony's participation in the American and perhaps UK trials is interesting given it is touting its own second-generation CD format, Super Audio CD. SACDs already provide a CD Audio component for backward compatibility.

Rick Dobbs, SMI's chief, today told the Times that the company was "thinking about" rolling out DualDisc in the UK. However, such a test-run is unlikely to take place before the US trial has been expanded to other areas.

"We would need to broaden [the US trial] significantly to get enough information to really go forward," Dobbs said.

The DVD Forum's Steering Committee approved DualDisc earlier this month. ®

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