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Sharky Extreme : November 22, 2008

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DVD, or Digital Versatile Disc, is an acronym that's becoming more and more familiar both to videophiles and general consumers worldwide.

Simply put, DVD allows a manufacturer to put up to 8.5GB of information on each side of a 5" Compact Disc. That type of capacity is large enough that when paired with an MPEG-2 decoding card, can accommodate two full hours of video per side of each disc. The benefits of DVD don't end there, add to the large storage potential a video resolution that's 40% higher than standard VHS tape quality, and full Dolby Digital Surround Sound.

It sounds like a great technology, and it is. DVD players have been on sale in the United States for about 16 months now, and as SharkyExtreme industry guru Larry Barber says, they've finally reached "Critical Mass". Critical Mass is defined by a certain product or service being sold or in use enough that prices can come down to where they're reachable by the mainstream. For DVD players, the magic "critical mass" number is 1.5 million units sold worldwide. As of 9/30/98, over 1.2 million DVD players had been sold, not including the PC drives. By the end of the year, an estimated 1.6 to 1.7 million DVD players will be in homes throughout the world, and 1999 will absolutely become the first year where DVD is aggressively marketed to John Q. Public (the average consumer). For comparison, it took the VCR approximately six months longer to hit the same mark after it debuted, so you can see why everyone is excited about the potential of the DVD market.

This fact isn't lost on current CD-ROM drive manufacturers, as several have already jumped on the "DVD-on-a-PC" bandwagon. Toshiba has really led the charge, offering the first 5X (actually 4.8X) DVD-ROM drive and the first true DVD-RAM drive, or a recordable DVD drive that offers capacity up to 2.6GB per side.

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