Published Works,  Technology Column

Tech 27

Tech #27
November 6, 1997

It seems international DVD(Digital Video Disk) sales have been lackluster since their introduction one year ago. The DVD is a compact disk the same size as a music CD or CD-ROM. Instead of a record album or computer program, the DVD holds a full-length motion picture, in crystal clear digital format. What’s happening locally?

It’s common for retailers to avoid giving you sales information, so we couldn’t pin anyone down on how many DVD players have been purchased in the Hampton Roads area. I turned to Don Pickens, who owns Audio Video Installations of Virginia, a Virginia Beach company. “95% of our home theater installations include a DVD player.” Pickens told me. “The other 5% are holding out for DIVX.” he added. Oh no, not another acronym! At least this one is worth talking about.

The name Divx is derived from a new company called Digital Video Express, a partnership between Circuit City Stores, an L.A. law firm and most of the big film companies. It’s an encryption technology which allows controlled viewing of special DVD disks. These special disks will be sold for around $5. In a Divx player, you’ll be able to watch a movie as many times as you want for 48 hours. After that you can purchase a code which will enable viewing for another 48 hours, or for a higher price unlimited viewing. It’s intended to make your trip to the video store one-way. Since the same technology will make it difficult if not impossible to illegally copy these movies, big companies like Disney, Paramount, Universal and Dream Works have all jumped on the Divx band wagon. “DVD with DIVX will take over the home theater market!” Pickens predicted. You know, I think he’s right!