DVD - on the TV or the PC?

The debate over whether the TV or the PC will become the focus of entertainment in the home takes centre stage as DVD players vie with PC drives to bring DVD movies to our screens.

The rivalry between the TV and the PC rages in the DVD arena as it does in the fight for Internet eyeballs. While PC and drive manufacturers are keen to point out sales of drives outsell set top boxes by about five to one, players are falling in price and have quietly been gathering momentum -- 200,000 are expected to ship to the UK in 1999.

According to Creative's product manager Franco de Bonis cost will keep PCs on top for some time to come. "You can buy a fully-enabled kit for the PC with output to the TV for £150," he said. The average price for a DVD player is around £350, but with Samsung slashing prices to £250 and rumours Asda is to produce one for around £150, PC domination of DVD is set for a challenge.

De Bonis concedes cheap set top boxes are "totally possible" but points to the ubiquitous nature of PC penetration. "PC sales always outstrip DVD players. He claims people are happy to watch movies on their PC. "According to a Web survey we did the majority of people were watching movies on their PCs," he said.

Not everyone agrees: DVD expert Tim Frost finds it hard to believe people want to watch movies on a PC and thinks consumers are waiting for a machine that will replicate the recording function of a VCR. A recordable DVD player is not commercially available in the UK yet. There are some available in Asia but they are expensive at around £5000. Welsh agrees that hardware will drive the market.

"It all about crossing the chasm. Industries with new technologies have no problem catching the early adopters and after that it is easy to fall into a chasm. With DVD I feel we have crossed the chasm," Welsh said. For DVD to become fully mainstream the price of discs -- currently averaging £17 -- may also need to come down.

Take me to the DVD Basement.


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