HOME Technology 2004
DVD recorders push into mainstream

PC drives become overnight commodity
During 2003 the DVD soared into the mainstream with the arrival of budget players selling for as low as $100 – this year entry level is even lower and the focus is shifting to recordable units for the PC and TV.

The DVD has not only improved video and audio quality it has taken off faster than any previous entertainment technology. Computer-based DVD writers (DVD Ram) are now available for under $200 virtually displacing the CD writer on latest model PCs and laptops.

A CD can only hold 80 minutes or up to 700MB of data – a single-layer DVD can store up to two hours of video (or 4.7GB). A dual-layer DVD disc has 9.4Gb capacity. All players and drives read dual-layer discs.

The recordable DVD is ideal for storing home videos, backing up large files including photographs or storing your music collection. The majority of DVD drives and players support CD formats but music recorded on DVD will only playback on a DVD drive.

While writing a CD at 48 and 52 times speed takes as little as four minutes, the DVD can take up to 20 minutes at 8 or 16 times speed. Currently a DVD disk retails for around $4, while a DVD/RW disc sells for about $7. DVD media like any new media will continue to get faster and come down in price.

Analysts estimate DVD penetration in the US has gone from just about zero to more than 50 percent over the last five years with growth in other markets including Australasia rapidly catching up.

On the home entertainment front DVD writers are now selling for under $500. Ultimately the DVD recorder, including those that come with hard disk space will replace the VCR.

Worldwide 2004 DVD recorder shipments and sales were expected double to around 10 million units, worth $US3.2 billion. That’s up from four million units sold in 2003. According to Understanding & Solutions, sales of DVD recorders will surpass DVD players in 2006, with devices using the DVD-Ram format making up the majority of consumer sales.

VHS sales and rental revenues are being overtaken and in the US DVD versions of films bought in more than box office and TV revenues in 2003.

DVDs have become a mammoth cash cow for TV and movie studios. Studios pocket about 80 cents in the dollar for each DVD compared to 50 cents from the box office. For example HBO earned $US130 million in royalties from the sale of DVD versions of The Sopranos during the first six months of 2003 and a new benchmark was set for the movie industry when first day sales for the Star Wars box set earlier this year topped $US100 million worldwide.

And the music industry is also moving much of its content to DVD. In early 2004 DVDs accounted for 7.2 per cent of total recorded music volume, more than double the 3.1 per cent in 2001 when they were first introduced.

Meanwhile Philips Electronics, Panasonic, Pioneer and others are pushing more advanced DVD recorders with built-in hard drives that allow viewers to pause or rewind programmes while they’re still being recorded.

The latest news from Warner Music group is that it plans to launch a CD-DVD combo called the DualDisc which is a standard CD on one side and a DVD on the other.

Meanwhile the Blu-ray disk system which is being heralded as the next consumer format for optical disk storage will enable 26Gb storage or on double-sided disks up to 50Gb.

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