The rewritable DVD formats--DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM--are gaining on their write-once cousins DVD-R and DVD+R in speed. But here's a bigger surprise: The first leap forward is coming from DVD-RAM, traditionally the slowpoke of the crowd.

A new 5X DVD-RAM standard speed was recently unveiled by the RAM Promotion Group. It's not vaporware: Readying 5X DVD-RAM drives are Hitachi-LG, which expects a release in June, and Panasonic, shipping in August. Maxell will have 5X DVD-RAM media in June as well. Previously, DVD-RAM maxed out at a mere 3X, while +/-RW managed 4X.

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