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Dell Bows First Burn-to-DVD PC Drive

15 Sep, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Dell Sept. 15 became the first PC manufacturer to offer a DVD drive with CSS copy encryption technology that allows consumers to burn a digital file of a Hollywood movie onto a blank disc that is playable on a DVD player.

Dell incorporated Sonic Solutions’ Qflix DVD software into a $120 drive bundle option for its Inspiron, Studio and XPS branded laptops. The bundle includes an external Qflix-enabled drive, which supports standard DVD read/write functions, two recordable Qflix DVD discs, Sonic’s Roxio Venue burning software, a USB cable and access to movies through download pioneer CinemaNow.

“The Qflix Platform is bringing the $35 billion DVD sellthrough market into the age of electronic distribution,” said Mark Ely, EVP of strategy at Sonic Solutions.

The drive is also offered at Dell’s Round Rock, Texas-based online store and will soon be available as an option for third-party CE desktops.

“The burnable-in-the-home DVD is well-timed, given the growing interest from both consumers and studios in digital distribution,” said Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research.

Adams said key factors contributing to consumers heretofore not purchasing movies electronically included worries about long-term ownership and portability of the downloaded file.

“Providing the security of a DVD back-up and the assurance that the file will play on the majority of standard DVD players … is a key step forward,” he said.

Marina del Rey, Calif.-based CinemaNow will initially offer 100 new releases and library titles from Warner Home Video, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment and Lionsgate, according to a spokesperson.

CinemaNow last year began using Roxio Venue burning software with CSS protection.

The service and rival Movielink in 2006 began offering burn-to-DVD movies utilizing fluxDVD copy protection from Germany’s ACE GmbH, which wasn’t compatible with all DVD players.

Richard Doherty, media analyst with The Envisioneering Group, said proliferation of burn-to-DVD drives could be a boon to CinemaNow and its attempt to wrestle content beyond streaming from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and MGM Home Entertainment.

He believes Real Networks, which last week announced new technology for legally copying commercial DVDs to your PC, will soon strike up a similar burn-to-DVD deal with Sonic.

“The convenience factor of burn-to-own is great, but the real immediacy of it is not going to be fully revealed until a few more deals are done,” Doherty said.

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