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DVD: from gadget to appliance

By / December 7, 2001



Does it seem as if every time you walk into your video store that another aisle has been turned over to DVDs?

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It's not your imagination. The Associated Press reports that DVDs will account for 40 percent of Blockbuster's rental revenues by the end of 2002. And DVD players are a red-hot Christmas gift item this year, perhaps spurred in part by Americans' renewed desire to stay home and "cocoon" since Sept. 11. The players expected to be in a quarter of American homes by Dec. 31, racing with record speed from being a gadget for technophiles to a common household appliance.

Did you keep your favorite audio-cassette tapes from before you bought your CD player? It's the same deal with your videotapes and VCR: Don't pitch 'em yet, because that under-$200 DVD player you're about to put under the tree won't record TV shows. The models that do are still expensive ($1,000 plus) and come in four competing formats, and you could choose the wrong one - remember Betamax?

No one doubts that the DVD (digital versatile disc) is here for a good long stay, at least as far as electronic devices go. It has plenty of advantages over a VCR: The picture and sound are noticeably better, and it can be quickly accessed at many points (no more hunting through a tape).

And DVDs hold much more information. That means you get extra features that won't fit on a tape: "making of" documentaries, directors' comments, outtakes, trailers, alternative endings, even games to play.

So start clearing a shelf: You're going to need it for your DVD player soon.

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