Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Picture Brightens as Digital Disks Challenge VCR

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Picture Brightens as Digital Disks Challenge VCR

Article excerpt

It's hard to keep a good digital technology down. But unwittingly, the consumer-electronics industry and Hollywood are doing just that. That's unfortunate, because their missteps are slowing the adoption of a great new technology called DVD.

Movies recorded in the new DVD (digital versatile disk) format are clearer, brighter, better-sounding, and less bulky than anything you pop into a videocassette recorder. Although it's probably too early to buy a DVD player just yet (too many questions swirl around future standards), keep your eye on this technology. Eventually, DVD will make today's VCR obsolete in the same way compact-disc players replaced turntables in the music industry.

The same disk will also one day replace that music CD and the computer's CD-ROM. But its first big step is video. For the first time, a single optical disk can hold an entire movie and then some. For example, the new DVD release of Alfred Hitchcock's black-and-white classic "Strangers on a Train" contains the American version of the movie on one side and the British version on the other. The movie can be watched in English or dubbed in French. There are subtitles for other languages as well. And, just as important, you can view program notes, short profiles of the cast and director, and skip immediately to any scene in the movie. After viewing three movies on RCA's DVD player (an RC5200P), I was sold on the technology. For example, a VCR displays less than 400 lines of resolution; the DVD player shows 500-plus, which makes for clearer and brighter images. The system also incorporates the latest surround sound, which allows for some very realistic effects on home-theater systems. Even on a simple TV set, the sound was clearer and more realistic than anything played on a VCR. For all their advantages, DVD players aren't selling quite as well as expected. …

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