After a copyright protection agreement was finally reached last October, industry watchers predict the much-anticipated release of the digital video disc (DVD) should occur by month's end. Experts say between three and five companies will release video players (for use with TV sets) and DVD-ROM drives (for computer use), with more companies expected to follow shortly.
What's the excitement all about? "The main advantage of DVD is increased capacity," says Wolfgang Schlichting at International Data Corp., a Framingham, Massachusetts-based market research company for the high-tech industry. The first DVD-ROMs expected on the market will hold about 4.7GB of data, 133 minutes of high-quality video or roughly seven times the amount of audio on a CD-ROM. Recordable discs, or DVD-R (write-once only), are planned for release this summer. Early versions of rewriteable DVD-RAMs may be out by year-end.
Still, experts caution against running out and investing in the new technology before taking all factors into consideration. Schlichting says the initial price for a DVD-ROM player is expected to be just below $1,000--significantly higher than current CD-ROM player prices. Lack of content available initially on DVD-ROM is also anticipated to be a drawback.