The global take-up of DVD hasn't yet been broad enough to attract the undivided attention of multimedia publishers, systems assemblers and consumers, but Sony is persevering with the technology and pushing along demand by shipping a new retail kit.
While Sony's storage product manager, Gordon Kerr, agreed DVD had not created the stampede mooted by some, he does envisage that market position to be changing and feels consumer demand is about to accelerate.
"It's fair to say the take-up of DVD has been slow, but the speed is definitely gathering," said Kerr. "We put it down to the old chicken and the egg factor with the availability of titles.
"Until about three months ago there was a shortage of titles on DVD as most of the movie houses hadn't released DVD titles yet and there was limited software coming out. However, over the last eight months we have seen things start to turn around and every major production house other than Time-Warner has made announcements about shipping DVD titles," he said.
The Sony DDU220E/H DVD plays back at 5x, includes a REALmagic Hollywood Plus MPEG-2 decoder card, functions as a 24x CD-ROM drive, and is compatible with CD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW media. It claims to deliver performance features such as 115ms DVD access time and a 6.7Mbps transfer rate. High-speed decompression allows for the support of full motion video with digital surround sound.
The drive plugs straight into a PCI slot and outputs to a PC monitor or TV. Retail kits have the recommended price of $799 and ship with two complimentary DVD titles.
In the opinion of Kerr, copyright has been one of the biggest issues about DVD from a publishing point of view. "When you copy a VHS tape, you lose about 20 per cent of the quality but that is not the case with digital recordings," he said.
"The quality available on a DVD disc is already higher than current broadcasts, and when you copy it, the clone loses nothing on image quality."
Opportunity for resellers
Kerr also felt there is a great opportunity for retailers to add on sales to anybody buying a DVD. He said that although a standard VGA monitor will give acceptable quality video, up-selling to a better monitor is worth pursuing and consumers also need to buy videos and software to use on the systems.
"I think the two biggest issues in the market at the moment from a customer perspective are CD-R and CD rewritable drives as well as DVD," said Kerr.
"There is definitely customer interest up front with consumers wanting to be able to just plug it in and get top quality. I think we have answered that with this package."