DVD: The Digital Revolution Reaches Home Entertainment; the Crystal-Clear Images on Screen at Your Local Multiplex Can Be Duplicated in Your Home with Myriad Features Currently Unavailable through a VCR

By Petrone, Emiel N. | USA TODAY, July 1998 | Go to article overview

DVD: The Digital Revolution Reaches Home Entertainment; the Crystal-Clear Images on Screen at Your Local Multiplex Can Be Duplicated in Your Home with Myriad Features Currently Unavailable through a VCR


Petrone, Emiel N., USA TODAY


The crystal-clear images on screen at your local multiplex can be duplicated in your home with myriad features currently unavailable through a VCR.

Rarely Does a new technology have as much of an impact on home entertainment as has the launch of DVD. Since its introduction in March, 1997, the digital video disc format has raised the standards of consumer electronics, leading viewers to reexamine the picture and sound quality they expect from movies and music video programs. By bringing together the high-quality, digital surround sound of compact discs with crisp, high-resolution digital video, DVD is the new wave in home entertainment.

DVD video offers numerous advantages compared to other home entertainment formats, such as VHS videotape and laserdiscs. Among the format's unique features are:

Superior picture clarity. DVD video provides viewers with images that are twice as clear as VHS videotape. The technology uses up to 500 lines of horizontal resolution vs. 240 lines of resolution for VHS.

Multiple aspect ratios. Many DVD video titles are available in multiple aspect ratios, meaning that the movie or music video can be viewed in widescreen format, as it originally was shown in movie theaters, or in a full-screen format, which adjusts the picture to fill the entire television screen. This allows consumers to select their preferred format for maximum entertainment enjoyment.

Expanded storage capability. DVD video discs are the same size as a compact disc, but can store up to 133 minutes of full-motion video per side on a single-layer disc. That is equal to 4.7 gigabytes per side--seven times the memory capacity of a compact disc. This breakthrough in digital storage lets viewers enjoy most movies on a single disc. Dual-layer discs can store four hours per side, perfect for epic-length movies or for storing both widescreen and pan-and-scan versions on one side of a disc.

Exceptional durability. Unlike videotapes, DVD video discs do not deteriorate over time or wear out from excessive use. For families with small children who watch their favorite movies over and over again, this durability will be particularly welcome. Music fans who enjoy repeated viewings of their favorite music videos or concert films will benefit from DVD video's exceptional durability as well. DVD video is the format ideal for rental, since customers will know that the quality of a movie never will degrade over time, as can happen with older videocassettes.

Convenience. DVD video discs are smaller and easier to store than videotapes.

Menu-driven features. Among the special features on most discs are movies' original trailers, interviews with directors and actors, and biographies of movie and music personalities. DVD video players make it easier to enjoy films and music videos by allowing direct access to individual scenes--no more fast forwarding or rewinding when looking for a specific scene. All of these features can be accessed with a remote control through easy-to-use on-screen menus.

Multiple camera angles. Some DVD video titles offer viewers something not available on VHS--the option of selecting different camera angles to find the shots they like best. With the multiple camera angles option, consumers can take a more active role in the enjoyment of their favorite programs, such as selecting specific shots while watching a sports video or choosing different camera angles in a concert performance.

Surround sound capabilities. Many DVD video discs are optimized for playback on Delby Digital 5.1 surround sound systems. This means that the audio ideally is designed for a system with five speakers (three in front and two in back) plus a subwoofer. Moreover, DVD video discs are compatible with other existing sound formats, including Delby Surround and Delby Pro Logic, and offer superior digital sound when compared to VHS on all home entertainment systems, regardless of the number of speakers.

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