DVD Players & Recorders
DVD (sometimes known as "Digital Versatile Disc" or "Digital Video Disc") is an optical disc storage media format that can be used for data storage, including movies with high video and sound quality. more...
DVDs resemble compact discs as their physical dimensions are the same (12 cm or occasionally 8 cm in diameter) but they are encoded in a different format and at a much higher density. The official DVD specification is maintained by the DVD Forum.
In the early 1990s two high density optical storage standards were being developed: one was the MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD), backed by Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density Disc (SD), supported by Toshiba, Time-Warner, Matsushita Electric, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Thomson, and JVC. IBM's president, Lou Gerstner, acting as a matchmaker, led an effort to unite the two camps behind a single standard, anticipating a repeat of the costly format war between VHS and Betamax in the 1980s.
Philips and Sony abandoned their MMCD format and agreed upon Toshiba's SD format with two modifications that are both related to the servo tracking technology. The first one was the adoption of a pit geometry that allows "push-pull" tracking, a proprietary Philips/Sony technology. The second modification was the adoption of Philips' EFMPlus. EFMPlus, created by Kees Immink, who also designed EFM, is 6% less efficient than Toshiba's SD code, which resulted in a capacity of 4.7GB instead of SD's original 5GB. The great advantage of EFMPlus is its great resilience against disc damage such as scratches and fingerprints. The result was the DVD specification Version 1.0, announced in 1995 and finalized in September 1996.
The first DVD players and discs were available in November 1996 in Japan, March 1997 in the United States, 1998 in Europe and in 1999 in Australia. The first pressed DVD was the movie Twister in 1996. The movie had the first test for 2.1 surround sound. The first titles released in the U.S., on March 19, 1997, by Lumivision, authored by AIX Entertainment, were IMAX adaptations: Africa: The Serengeti, Antarctica: An Adventure of a Different Nature, Tropical Rainforest, and Animation Greats.
By the spring of 1999 the price of a DVD player had dropped below $300 US. At that point Wal-Mart began to offer DVD players for sale, but DVDs represented only a small part of their video inventory; VHS tapes of movies made up the remainder.
As of 2006 the situation is reversed; DVDs make up the bulk and VHS is a slim minority. The price of a DVD player has dropped to below the level of a typical VCR (although DVD recorders are still significantly more expensive than VCRs); a low-end player with reasonable quality can be purchased for under $50 US in many retail stores and many modern computers are sold with DVD-ROM drives. Most, but not all, movie "sets" or series have been released in box sets, as have some entire seasons or selected episode volumes of older and newer television programs.
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