Eighty percent of the world's DVD players come from China, so what happens when that country decides DVD is a dumb format? We're about to find out.
On Wednesday some 20 Chinese companies unveiled their "EVD" players, which aim to replace DVD with a format they say offers better picture & sound -- though not high def, more capacity and stronger copy protection (that's ironic). The firms behind EVD predict they will cease making DVD players for their home market by 2008 and start exporting EVD players around the world even sooner, in 2007.
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it's because this format was initially launched in 2003, but flopped and was shelved a year later. But this time around there are 54 models of EVD players being launched, many Chinese movie titles and even a few legitimate American films on the format (though I'd hardly say an EVD of "Cellular" is evidence of Hollywood sliding its chips over to EVD.) The new crop of manufacturers are not just household names in China; TCL is one of them and owns electronics maker Thomson of France as well as the RCA brand.
With the existing format battle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD underway, and online delivery of filmed entertainment taking hold, there probably couldn't be a noisier time to release a new video disc format.