1998's Questions Of Change
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1998's Questions Of Change
1998 is shaping to be a whopping year for change in the home theater and Laser Disc industry. Over the past year, at least half
our phone calls have been folks seeking answers about the future in order to make informed buying decisions. Below, we have
listed the most commonly asked questions and a brief answer to each. We hope this will be of help to our readers, not to mention
a savings on everyone's long distance bills
What is the current status of the DVD pay-per-view format called DIVX? Since it requires a specially equipped player, should I
wait to see what happens with DIVX before buying a DVD player?
In our opinion, DIVX is sure to fail and become not much more than dead weight in the DVD players so equipped. To date, only
CBS -Fox and Steven Spielberg have yet to join the standard or "Open" DVD club. Even Paramount has recently committed to
Open DVD and will release their blockbuster film Titantic on DVD in early November. Without exclusive
rights to major motion picture releases, there is no motivation for either sell-through or rental customers to buy DIVX. In short,
buying a DVD player now will give you the quality and savings on over 1,400 free-market DVD titles that are available today.
I understand the DTS surround audio system can be used on DVD titles, but it will require yet another specially equipped player
(along with a DTS surround decoder) for playback. Will DTS have the same quality advantage on DVD as it had on Laser Disc?
There are two factors that determine quality in audio compression. One is the bandwidth, and the other is the encoding process
itself. The reason DTS sounds better on Laser Disc and in many theaters is because it's bandwidth is many times greater than the
Dolby Digital counterpart. For compatibility and other technical reasons, Dolby Digital had to trade off bandwidth against
With DVD, the bandwidth available for either DTS or Dolby Digital audio about the same. On this level playing field, Dolby
Digital actually holds an advantage since it's encoding process is somewhat more efficient than DTS. Also DTS encoded DVD's
will most likely cost more, and will not play 5.1 surround on non-DTS equipped players. For DVD, we suggest staying with
As Laser Disc sales continue to decline, do you think the format will survive? Will I be able to buy a replacement player in the
future if my current model fails?
The best way to see the future of Laser Disc is to study the history of 12" LP phonograph records. 15 years after the announced
"death" of 12" LP's, new record turntables are still for sale in most larger appliance stores. As for the software, Laser Discs
should also follow the 12" LP's history. New releases will focus more on the "big" titles, with sales on used and collectible discs
increasing as more rank-in-file catalog titles go out of print.
Should I buy a combo DVD+Laser Disc player, such as the Pioneer DVL-909,. Or would it be better to purchase separates
Laser Disc is at the end of it's evolutionary cycle. The LV player you buy 10 years from now will not be very different from the
models available today. In contrast, DVD will advance technically at the same pace as computer products. With this in mind,
buying a DVD+Laser combo player is comparable to buying a CD+turntable machine 15 years ago (if such a product had been
offered). DVD+LV combos are convenient, but rule out economical upgrading of the DVD section in the future. On the whole,
separate players are a better value for the money.
What about the new digital broadcast standard and high definition TV's due to be made available? Should I buy DVD now, or
The key word here is digital. Both DVD and DBS satellites system encode their video into individually addressable spots or
"pixels" that make up the picture. With today's low cost computer technology, you can directly translate your DVD or DBS
digital video into any high definition resolution you wish, with stunningly good results.
In fact, it's the computer industry made it possible for all formats of video to be able to "talk" and work with each other. With
that said, here's our prediction for this summer's hottest selling portable electronics toy.
Lets's consider a lap-top computer with a built-in DVD drive and ports that support an optional video camera and integrated
wireless modem that can double as a cellular telephone. On your next trip, this single toy could effectively "replace" the video
camcorder, cell phone, CD player, desktop computer, digital audio recorder and even the radio alarm clock that sits on your bed
stand. Also possible are other unique applications, such as the first truly practical 2-way digital video phone or even software-
based digital audio equalization and ambience effects. If all else fails, you can watch a DVD movie on the 12" to 14" active
pixel screen that is digitally interpolated up to 1024x768 of resolution. Because the DVD video is digitally processed for direct-
to-screen display, the picture will be better than most conventional TV's. Interested? Click here for further details