While it was originally called the Digital Versatile Disc, the DVD suffered numerous delays and almost never made it to market.
While today, the DVD is almost a non-relevant format, at one point, it was considered to be the next big thing and just about every name brand manufacturer touted its superior video quality. Like UHD and 4K TV today, DVD was confusing to most consumers as most of them were happy with the VHS. After all VHS could not only play movies, this format could record TV shows as well. DVD on the other hand, was a read-only medium and could only playback video. To some, it was a step backwards.
This story takes us back in history and documents the buzz of consumer electronics world in 1996.
New motion picture playback format finally due this spring
After 14 months of hype and anticipation and more scrapped launch dates than an experimental NASA rocket, the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) is about to become a reality.
DVDs are compact disc look-alikes that instead of playing back 74 minutes of music, deliver up to 133 minutes of high-quality video on a single disc. After testing preliminary units I have to admit that the video quality exceeds that of VHS, laser disc and satellite. It also allows for previously unheard of functions such as parental controls, multiple aspect ratios, language preferences and some titles will even allow for directors cuts with adjustable camera angles.
Of course to take advantage of this new technology a you have to purchase a dedicated DVD player at prices starting at $600.
That’s the good news. The bad news is: It will take a while to have an assortment of DVD movies available for purchase. Without the movies, although they will play music CDs, they will be basically useless.
At last count, approximately 50 titles are promised to be available by spring and about 200 or so by the end of the year. And, as of press time, not one major video superstore has committed to this format for rental. But, that will most definitely change if and when the players become a success. The movies are expected to sell for $20 to $50.
It is important to note that although the first generation of DVDs will only playback movies, future generations promise to be recordable. But, w’ell just have to wait and see on that one.
Other than the superior video image, DVDs will be compatible with the new Dolby Digital (formally known as AC-3) audio format. Simply stated, when connected to a Dolby Digital audio/video receiver and speakers, it will have the ability of recreating a true theater at home experience.
This brings us to the question: Why would I want to purchase a DVD player?
Well you might not. That is unless you are a true videophile or one of those who is always the first to have the latest in technology. My best advice is to sit back and see how the DVD shakes out over the next few months. With just about every electronics manufacturer is jumping on the DVD bandwagon, there is a good shot that this new format will catch on. In the meantime, here are some of the models that will soon be showing up in stores:
Although Toshiba has been blowing its DVD horn the loudest over the past year, the buzz in the industry is that they will not be the first on the market as promised. It appears that Pioneer could beat them to the punch.
In an effort to seduce laser disc owners to make the switch to DVD Pioneer will introduce a model that really makes sense — a combination laser disc/DVD player. Its model No. DVL-700 ($1,000) will feature Dolby Digital decoding and trays for lasers and DVDs. Pioneer will also have an entry-level single DVD player model No. DV-500 ($600).
Samsung’s DVD player, the DVD-705 ($750), will offer Dolby Digital Surround Sound with several adjustments to create the ambiance of a theater in a home environment.
RCA’s entry level model No. RC5200P’s will sell for $600, and its step-up model No. RC5500P which adds Dolby Digital and a Universal remote will cost $700.Sony is targeting the higher end of the market and is offering its DVP-S7000 ($1,000) with lots of bells and whistles including Dolby Digital decoding and additional video converters that promise less artifacts.