Sony has announced a DVD world-first technology - Dual Layer DVD Recordable. For the first time, consumers will be able to burn full-length DVD discs. With almost twice the capacity of existing recordable media and holding up to 8.5GB, the discs can be played in the majority of existing DVD-ROM drives and DVD video players. The new disc capacity now matches what is already available with pre-recorded ROM & movie discs. 'Sony, as a leader in Optical Technology has had many firsts. We were the first to offer Dual +/- Format compatibility and we now offer Dual Layer,' said Mr. Gordon Kerr, Sony Australia's Product Manager for Optical Storage. 'Dual Layer offers exceptional benefits for the customer. They have twice the capacity and maintain full compatibility,' said Mr. Kerr.Until now, DVD recorders have been limited to single-layer 4.7GB DVD-5. With Dual Layer they now have access to the same DVD-9 capacity found in most pre-recorded media. Users will be able to burn DVDs complete with features such as Widescreen and Surround Sound. Instead of two hours standard grade, Double Layer will support up to two hours of double bit-rate Hi-Definition video. 'Dual Layer DVD Recordable has been designed to address the huge increase in the use of digital data. Consumers need a format that has wide compatibility and a large capacity. Even more importantly, they need a format that is cost effective. The new discs are expected to retail for less than AUS $10 each and can be used for audio, video, still images and data files,' said Mr Kerr.Sony intends to incorporate the new technology into their IT and consumer product ranges progressively over the next 12 months. The first products to feature the technology will be PC drives shipping around June. Specifications for individual products including the new drives will be announced closer to the respective launch dates.What is DVD Dual Layer technology and how does it work?Essentially, DVD-Rec DL (double layer) discs are made up from a sandwich of two very thin films of organic dye separated by a transparent spacer layer. Information is recorded by permanent changes in the dye films caused when exposed to the energy from a laser in the drive's recording head. The upper layer is semi-transparent, so the laser can be focused through it onto the lower layer, allowing data to be recorded and read back from both layers in turn. What formats will Sony support under Dual Layer?Sony supports both the + and - DVD recordable formats. Initially DL technology will only be available for the + format. DVD DL+R discs will be write-once and will store up to 8.5GB. Testing indicates media will play in the majority of existing DVD-ROM drives and DVD Video players although some drives/players, particularly older models, may require a firmware upgrade.