Hewlett-Packard and Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) have agreed to support each other's favoured rewritable DVD technologies in some of their respective products, they said Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The agreement will see Hewlett-Packard (HP) build support for the DVD-RAM format into its desktop personal computers and see Panasonic add support for the DVD+R format to its DVD video recorder, said Masaru Kono, president and chief operating officer of Panasonic Consumer Electronics, the US arm of the Osaka-based company.

Both companies painted the agreement as something that will benefit consumers and lessen the confusion that can arise from the sometimes baffling array of DVD standards. However, representatives of both companies accepted that a lot of the confusion stems from their inability to agree on a common standard in the first place.

Before recordable DVDs hit the market the DVD-Forum, the standards setting body for the DVD format, developed the DVD-R, -RW and -RAM formats. But a group of companies, led by Hewlett-Packard, Sony, and Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, weren't happy with the backwards compatibility offered by those formats. They then proposed and commercialized their own DVD+R and +RW formats.

The market has been left with two distinct format families and users face problems when discs from one family are used in drives designed for the other. The agreement is intended to eliminate some of those problems and will allow, for example, an 8-centimeter DVD-RAM disc from a Panasonic camcorder to be edited on an HP desktop PC and then played back in a Panasonic DVD player, said Panasonic.

The companies decided to work together after seeing DVD-RAM beginning to take a position of strength in the DVD video recorder and camcorder market and DVD+R gain acceptance from some PC makers, said Maureen Weber, general manager of HP's optical storage solutions business. HP expects to have its first products out supporting DVD-RAM in the second half of 2005.

Panasonic's first products to support DVD+R recording were announced at CES on Wednesday. The DMR-ES10 will be available from April and will cost around US$250, DMR-ES30V includes a VHS deck and will be available from May for around $350, and DMR-EH50 includes a hard-disk drive recording function and will be available from May for around $500.