The 1990s have seen a have boost in consumer electronic sales. Families are now able to purchase former big ticket items such as computers for under $800. 00 and VCRs for under $100. 00. Prices for these product have fallen dramatically due to consumer usage and competition. In addition it is also common place to find individuals hooking up their stereo to their televisions and VCRs, and adding surround sound systems. This phenomenon in consumer electronic viewing habits has triggered the buzz word of the Home Theatre.
With all of these great sound systems out there people are anting to utilize them as well as get better cleaner crisper video signals through their television. In just over a year the consumer technology DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) has made huge wages in the consumer home video market. This paper will explore the benefits of DVD as well as explore some the technical possibilities that are made available to consumers with DVD. It will also look at the latest features of DVD, DIVX (Digital Video Express) and let the reader make the decision if its an option that is really all that necessary.
DVD is a relatively new format, but it has made a huge impact in the consumer ideo market since its relapse only a year ago. DVD is DVD, which stands for Digital Video Disc, Digital Versatile Disc, or nothing, depending on whom you ask, is the next generation of optical disc storage technology. It’s essentially a bigger, faster CD that can hold video as well as audio and computer data. DVD aims to encompass home entertainment, computers, and business information with a single digital format, eventually replacing audio CD, videotape, laserdisc, CD-ROM, and perhaps even video game cartridges.
DVD has widespread support from all major electronics companies, all ajor computer hardware companies, and about half of the major movie and music studios, which is unprecedented and says much for its chances of success. Some of the benefits of DVD are an individual DVD can store over 2 hours of high-quality digital video (over 8 on a double-sided, dual-layer disc). Support for widescreen movies on standard or widescreen TVs (4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios). You can also have up to 8 tracks of digital audio (for multiple languages, DVS, etc. , each with as many as 8 channels, up to 32 subtitle/karaoke tracks, automatic “seamless” branching of video (for ultiple story lines or ratings on one disc).
In addition you can have up to 9 camera angles (different viewpoints can be selected during playback). In addition you have menus and simple interactive features (for games, quizzes, etc. ). “Instant” rewind and fast forward, including search to title, chapter, track, and timecode. DVDs are very durable (no wear from playing, only from physical damage). Also they are not susceptible to magnetic fields and they are resistant to heat.. They are also compatible with audio CDs.
These are many of the reasons that families are making DVD so successful. Home Theatre viewing are bringing amilies together to watch films in their homes at a less expensive alternative to going to the there. Most DVD movies list for $20 to $30 with street prices between $15 and $25, even those with supplemental material. Low-priced movies can be found for under $10. Video rental stores are beginning to see the potential of renting Dads and usually offer the superior quality format. So far DVD has not followed the initial high rental price model of VHS. The current alternative to DVD is DIVX.
DIVX is a pay-per-viewing-period variation of DVD. DIVX is currently sold for $4. 50 and only throughout the Circuit City Corporation. Once inserted into a DIVX player the disc will play normally (allowing the viewer to pause, rewind, even put in another disc before finishing the first disc) for the next 48 hours, after which the “owner” must pay $3. 25 to unlock it for another 48 hours. A DIVX DVD player, which costs about $100 than a regular player, must be hooked up to a phone line so it can call an 800 number for about 20 seconds during the night once each month to upload billing information.
Special DIVX Silver discs can be permanently unlocked by paying a higher fee ($10 to $20), and unlimited-playback DIVX Gold discs may lso be offered for sale at a price similar to regular “open” DVDs. DIVX players also play regular DVD discs, but DIVX discs do not play in standard DVD players. DIVX discs are serialized (with a barcode in the standard Burst Cutting Area) and in addition to normal DVD copy protection they employ watermarking and triple DES encryption (three 56-bit keys).
No computer support of DIVX has been announced, and in any case special decryption hardware would be required since DES is too complex for realtime software decoding. Because of the DES encryption, DIVX technology may not be allowed outside the U. S. Some of the dvantages of DIVX are that viewing can be delayed, unlike rentals. Discs need not be returned. No late fees. You can watch the movie again for a small fee. Initial cost of “owning” a disc is reduced. Discs can be unlocked for unlimited viewing (DIVX Silver), an inexpensive way to preview before deciding to purchase.
The disc is new; no damage from previous renters. Consmers may like the fact that their are no more late fees for these types of discs however you do have to connect them to your phone lines, which many feel is a hassle. Some of the disadvantages of the format are higher player cost (about $100 to $200 more, ay eventually drop to $50 more). Although discs need not be returned, the viewer still must go to the effort of purchasing the disc. Cable/satellite pay per view is more convenient. Higher cost than for regular DVD rental ($4 to $7 vs. $2 to $3).
There are few obstacles to the company raising prices later, since it has a monopoly. Casual quick viewing (looking for a name in the credits, playing a favorite scene, watching supplements) will require paying a fee. All DIVX titles will be pan & scan and have no extras such as foreign language tracks, subtitles, biographies, trailers, and commentaries. (DIVX is encouraging studios to release upplemented discs on regular DVD. ) The player must be hooked to your phone line, possibly requiring a new jack in your living room or a phone extension cable strung across it.
If your phone line is down for a long period of time, you may not be able to watch DIVX discs. The DIVX central computer collects information about your viewing habits, as do cable/satellite pay-per-view services and large rental chains. (According to DIVX, the law does not allow them to use the information for resale and marketing. ) DIVX players include a “mailbox” for companies to send you unsolicited offers (i. e. , spam). Those who don’t lock out heir DIVX player may receive unexpected bills when their kids or visitors play DIVX discs.
DIVX discs won’t play in regular DVD players or on PCs with DVD-ROM drives. Uninformed consumers may buy DIVX discs only to find they won’t play in their non-DIVX player. Unlocked Silver discs will only work in players on the same account. Playback in a friend’s DIVX player will incur a charge. (Gold discs will play without charge in all players. ) DIVX can’t be used in mobile environments, such as a van or RV. There is no market for used DIVX discs. DIVX could undermine the DVD rental business and sellthrough business possibly resulting in higher costs for non-DIVX discs).
If DIVX goes out of business, they may not be able to be played again. For the family who has children who watch films over and over again, DIVX, is probably not a great option unless the consumer doesnt have a problem with paying for the usage overtime. In Conclusion I hope this report has enlightened the reader as to the differences between the two formats and can educate the consumer as to facts and myths about each of the two formats. The question of format may be a question that may be addressing many families this holiday season.