The optical drive industry has been dominated by joint ventures lately, ranging from the Hitachi-LG partnership to the Toshiba-Samsung mashup, so both Sony and NEC knew that they'd better get in bed together if each wanted to remain competitive in the marketplace. The first product resulting from the new Sony NEC Optiarc, an 18x DVD burner called the AD-7170A, is set to hit the market next month -- but competition will still be fierce, as 20x burners are just beginning to see the light of day. Sources quoted by DigiTimes indicate that soon the actual drive manufacturing will be outsourced to Lite-On IT, whose prowess in volume production should complement Sony's skill at developing optical pick-up heads and NEC's chipset design capabilities to allow the JV to produce attractive products at higher margins. Or something like that -- either way, we'll bring you more on this inaugural product (including pics) when it becomes available.

[Via TG Daily]

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Sony NEC Optiarc joint venture set to release 18x DVD burner