Another delay for DVD

Disputes over formats have again pushed back the launch of digital video disks. Steve Homer reports

For dedicated gadget shoppers, some disappointing news emerged from Germany last week. The present for the person who has everything will not be in the shops this Christmas. Yet again, DVD, Digital Video Disk, is being delayed.

DVD, as a growing number of frustrated potential customers know, is the perfect way of bringing movies into the sitting room. A movie, with soundtracks in several languages, will fit on a single CD-sized disk. In fact, one disk can store up to four normal-length movies.

Everyone seems to agree that DVD is wonderful. The trouble is that battles along the way have slowed its progress. Originally scheduled for a launch last year (when it launched in the US and Japan), DVD was then due in Europe this spring. The Berlin show was supposed to be the launching ground, but squabbles over which sound system to use in Europe, problems with chips, a lack of encoding facilities and foot-dragging by the Hollywood studios held back the launch.

But at a major press conference here, the studios and the consumer electronics companies finally managed to present a unified front. With the exception of Fox and Disney, all the studios announced support for DVD in Europe, launching around 100 titles next spring, with some 15 more being added each month. Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi, for their part, all agreed to launch their players next spring.

DVD players are already on sale in the UK. Panasonic and Thomson have launched players with little software to run on them. To make matters worse, these players will be incompatible with the software released next year.

DVD supports high quality audio, but there are two competing systems battling for this market. Dolby's AC-3 is popular in the US, but European companies have been pushing for MPEG-2, as it will be used in digital TV. While the Hollywood studios were expected to boycott MPEG-2, they all announced support, saying no titles would be released in AC-3.

While the Panasonic and Thomson players will be able to produce stereo, they will not be able to provide the six channel output that most other players will offer.

But there are still battles to come. DVD-Rom, a version of DVD aimed at the computer market, is just beginning to launch in the UK, and again there is little software on offer. But battles over a recordable version of DVD-Rom, called DVD-Ram are causing confusion.

Instead of the 4.7Gb DVD-Rom will hold, a DVD-Ram will hold only 2.7Gb. But Sony, Philips and computer company Hewlett-Packard have broken ranks to propose a recordable disk that will store 3 gigabytes. These companies claim that their disks will use a technology that is more compatible with earlier disks and so give consumers less problems. With DVD-Ram expected to be launched at the end of next year, it looks like another fine mess in the offing.

Sadly, for domestic users, all the companies agree that it will be two or three years before we see a recordable DVD player.

But, with a mass of players and a huge raft of titles, DVD looks set for take off next spring and looks almost certain to be the big present of Christmas 1998. About time, too, you might sayn

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all