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The Independent Culture
It's all very well that the new format of DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) offers greatly increased storage capacity over the similarly sized CD, so that now a whole feature film can fit on one disc; plus, of course, there's the excellent picture quality that knocks videotape for six. But movie enthusiasts have spent the last couple of years investing in LaserDisc players (those 12in silver discs which had half a film on each side and never sold in sufficient quantities to rise above the term "niche market"). So what are they supposed to do with their expensive and now useless collections? Well, Pioneer, which made most of the LaserDisc players in the first place, has come up with the DVL 900, a large, champagne-coloured beast which should keep everyone happy (apart from interior decorators). LaserDiscs and the small number of DVD movies currently available are playable, as are your CDs; connecting the machine to the right amp will give you Dolby Digital sound, and the image quality is stunning, making even Batman and Robin worth watching. For five minutes anyway. Other movies we tested benefited from that crystal clarity and the ability to add subtitles in nine different languages, though in English at least these were laughably inaccurate. A snip, then, for the niche market, at pounds 900 or so. Call Pioneer on 01753 789500 for stockists. David Phelan

! The Pioneer DVL 909 will be in action today at the Hi-Fi Show at the Renaissance and Excelsior Hotels, Heathrow, London from 10am to 6pm. Admission costs pounds 4