Any last remaining doubts about the future of the DVD format should be firmly killed off by the flood of DVD players being announced at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Panasonic stepped up with a brand new eight player line-up -- five home models, including two 5-disc changers, and three portables.
Most exciting, of course, are the new PalmTheatre portable players. Panasonic was the first to release a portable unit with a built-in screen and most of its competitors are following suit.
All the players feature Cinema Mode, Advanced Virtual Surround Sound, Dialogue Enhancer, Chapter Preview, and 5-step Smooth Motion Scan. Each one also has S-Video outputs, standard audio/video outs, and digital audio outputs for convenient connection to a TV.
First up is the DVD-LV75, shipping in the US in June for $1399.95 (£850). It's a tiny little machine, at 5.5 x 10 inches and under and an inch thick. There's a seven-inch diagonal LCD screen, built-in Dolby Digital and dts decoders and built-in stereo speakers. Advanced VSS stimulates surround sound from external stereo speakers. The battery charger is built-in and the lithium ion battery gives up to three hours of playback. A remote control and AC adapter are also thrown in.
Next down the ladder is the DVD-LV55. For $400 less you only get a 5-inch screen and there are no Dolby Digital or dts decoders built-in. Still, you can also play audio CDs on it.
Finally, there's Panasonic's bargain basement offering, the DVD-PV55 for $699.95 (£425). This modest little player has all the standard features of the other models but Panasonic has done away with the screen, built-in speakers and battery pack. Basically then, its a home player that you can take round to your mate's house.
For full coverage, see the CES News Special.