DVD FAQ Changes and Obsolete Entries


Available players:

Projected player releases:



Fujitsu supposedly released the first DVD-ROM-equipped computer on Nov. 6 in Japan. Toshiba released a DVD-ROM-equipped computer and a DVD-ROM drive in Japan in early 1997 (moved back from December which was moved back from November). DVD-ROM drives from Toshiba, Pioneer, Panasonic, Hitachi, and Sony began appearing in sample quantities as early as January 1997, but none were to be available before May. Creative Labs' PC-DVD upgrade kit (Matsushita drive and A/V decoder board; Warner DVD-V sampler) went on sale in the U.S. in April 1997 for $500. Samsung drives (and PCs with drives) were available in Korea in January. Hi-Val's $799 PC-DVD upgrade kit (Toshiba drive, Quadrant decoder; 6 DVD-ROMS including Silent Steel, Daedalus Encounter, and Xiphias Encyclopedia Electronica) became available in May 1997, as did Diamond Multimedia's $599 kit. STB Systems DVD Theater Upgrade Kit was be available in July for $699. DynaTek announced a $649 upgrade kit with 6 titles. Toshiba's Infinia DVD-ROM-equipped PC become available Summer 1997. Upgrade kits from Creative and and others are available for under $100. Hi-Val's 2nd-generation kit is $380. E4's CoolDVD upgrade kit for Macintoshes became available for $499 in July 1998. Sigma Designs also makes playback cards.
For drive details see http://www.brouhaha.com/~eric/video/dvd/. WebShopper has a good report (dated Sep 16, 1998).

[1.48] When will DVD be obsolete?

Sooner than you thought. The DVD Forum has announced that the new high-density, high-definition version of DVD using blue lasers will be ready, before expected, by the end of this year. HDHDDVD, as some are calling it, will make existing DVD players obsolete, since it's new and cool. DVD scientists apparently have had great success licensing Crayola technology for coloring existing lasers rather than using expensive new Trillium-Arsenic lasers. In addition to holding more data, the new DVD discs will provide high-definition video for movie-quality viewing on any TV set. Surprisingly, the DVD Forum chose Project Mayo compression technology for HDHDDVD. Apparently they decided that Jack Valenti of the MPAA was right when he predicted that it would be used to send movies at the speed of light to 6 billion people. How could that many people be wrong? So if you already have an ancient DVD player with red lasers and aging MPEG-2 video, start saving now to replace it.

[Question added April 1, 2001]

Panasonic announced a DVD-R(G)/DVD-RAM combo drive (known as the RAMbo drive) in June 2001 for under $600, and a home DVD-R/RAM video recorder that will be available in October 2001 for $1,500. VivaStar, Sharp, and others plan to release DVD-R(G) recorders in 2001.


Pioneer released a third generation of its DVD-RW recorder in Japan in June 2001 for about 198,000 yen (about $1,500). The new model may be released in the U.S. and elsewhere around the end of 2001 or sometime in 2002. Sharp announced a $2,200 DVD-RW recorder, and Zenith (LG) announced a $2,000 DVD-RW recorder, but neither appeared at the end of 2000 as expected. Sharp expects to have a DVD-RW video recorder that costs less than $1,000 by March 2002. TV One announced a DVD-RW video recorder for July 2001 at $3,500 that can also create Video CD discs. Sony will ship a DVD-RW video recorder in Japan in September 2001 for 220,000 yen (about $2,000).

[4.1] Can I play DVD movies on my computer?

All but the Sigma Designs decoder (including Creative Dxr3) have WDM drivers for DirectShow. The Sigma Designs decoder card is used in hardware upgrade kits from Hitachi, HiVal, Panasonic, Phillips, Sony, Toshiba, and VideoLogic. The advantage of hardware decoders is that they don't eat up CPU processing power, and they often produce better quality video than software decoders. The Chromatic Mpact2 chip does 3-field analysis to produce exceptional progressive-scan video from DVDs (unfortunately, Chromatic was bought by ATI and the chip is no longer supported, although some of the technology is now in ATI's Radeon).


[6.3] Where can I buy (or rent) DVDs and players?