Once it stood for digital versatile disc. Then it became digital video disc.
But in the past three months, DVD has taken on a new meaning for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers trying to sort through rapidly shifting technological specifications, business alliances, and promises of innovation followed by frustrating delays. The new technology might as well stand for deeply vexing divisions.
This week, consumers began to feel the effects of that chaos. People who bought DVD players were angered to learn that new formats could make their purchases obsolete. As a result, even though DVD players and movie titles have hit the market, there's still little sign of an industry standard--and consumers aren't sure what to do.
A ten-manufacturer consensus on the DVD-RAM specification started unraveling last month when first a group led by Sony and then NEC struck out on their own with technologies the companies claimed would far surpass DVD-RAM's storage capacity. Their substitute products will be incompatible with DVD technology. Then this week, the issue took on a new wrinkle with the advent of Divx, a technology to debut in consumer video rentals that will not be compatible with DVD players now on the market.
Few doubt that before long, VHS and floppies will go the way of the LP and 8-track tape. But exactly what flavor of DVD will fill the void remains to be seen. Here's a look at the most recent news.
DVD owners dis Divx
By Jim Davis
Owners of DVD players are up in arms over news that the Divx format could make current DVD hardware obsolete.
Hitachi weighs in on DVD-RAM
Zenith trumpets Divx for DVD
Disney enters DVD market
NEC plans 5.2GB disk
Sony abandons DVD-RAM format
DVDs: New digital domain