DVD Roll-Out Parade Continues: Toshiba and Pioneer to Introduce Basic Players with CD Audio

Tokyo, Japan. Announcements out of Japan by the nation’s major consumer electronics manufacturers continue to firm up the roll-out plan for DVD, Digital Video Disc (sometimes called Digital Versatile Disc).

In the last few days, Toshiba and Pioneer have made formal announcements of hardware to be introduced in November. These announcements follow in the wake of similar statements earlier this month by Matsushita (Panasonic) and Hitachi. Among the key players in Japan, only Sony has said that it will delay the arrival of DVD due to an expected scarcity of software (video titles). Discs will be slow to arrive, due to disagreements over DVD-video’s copy protection scheme.

The first DVD player from Toshiba, model SD-3000, will go on sale November 1 in Japan at a price of approximately $700 (US). This will be a basic unit, with the ability to play DVD-video and CD-audio discs. Other features include a Dolby AC-3 decoder and S-video output. Toshiba also announced the first DVD-ROM player for computers, to be introduced on the same date.

Pioneer is bringing DVD to market in late October. The first Pioneer unit will be part of a new integrated stereo system, the FX7MD, which will include a receiver and six other components, in addition to the DVD unit. It will be introduced in Japan at a price of approximately $2,000 (US). Pioneer plans to sell the FX series DVD player separately at a price of $750 (US) starting in December.

So far, no manufacturer has announced a DVD player with support for any independent audio format other than the existing CD standard of 44.1 kHz, 16-bit resolution. However, most observers expect a DVD-audio standard or set of standards to be settled soon. Formats that may be supported by DVD’s high data transfer rate (six times faster than CD) and storage capacity (15 times greater than CD) include Dolby AC-3 5.1 channel surround, 2-to-8 channel DTS Coherent Sound, 20-bit 48 kHz PCM four channel, 24-bit 96 kHz stereo, and MPEG Audio (Musicam).

DVD players supporting some form of higher-quality audio are not expected on the market for at least a year.

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