Originally, DVD stood for Digital Video Disc. Then
The technology was formally launched a few years ago, but expensive hardware, a software dearth, and a paucity of local suppliers have prevented the local DVD industry from developing mainstream support. However, that's all set to change. The claims that DVD will replace your VHS machine, CD player, and your computer's CD-ROM drive no longer seem far-fetched.
DVD discs look much like CDs, but they can hold a lot more data, up to 17 GB, in fact, which represents some 13 times the capacity of a CD. So an audio DVD can have 13 entire albums on it and a single data DVD can hold a whole game which would otherwise span multiple CD-ROMs. The initial benefits of the medium, however, will be seen in the video market.
Video CDs have been around for a while, but the quality they delivered was poor. The high capacity of DVD, on the other hand, allows for really great image quality - much better than VHS - along with cinema quality sound.
DVD provides the sharpest possible picture on any TV. Compared to the fuzziness of videotape, DVD discs are as crystal clear as satellite transmissions or the studio source from which they are made. With more than double the resolution offered by VHS, DVD offers greater detail and a much sharper picture. And because DVD discs can contain both regular and widescreen versions of the same movie, you even get to choose your own preferred viewing medium.
DVD can also offer digital sound. And unlike a traditional CD (which can be played in a DVD drive incidentally) you aren't restricted to stereo. Dolby Digital surround sound soundtracks enliven the majority of DVD movies. With a digital receiver / amplifier that conforms to Dolby's AC-3 standard and an investment on good speakers, you can get as good (if not better) sound quality in your home as you do in most movie theatres.
Another feature that sets DVD apart from other audio and visual technologies is its durability. Unlike videotape, which wears out pretty quickly, the quality of a DVD does not degrade with use. Being the same size as a CD, DVDs are also much easier to store and carry than VHS tapes.
DVD technology offers a number of extras designed to facilitate truly interactive viewing. Depending on the movie title, you may be able to view theatrical trailers, cut scenes, alternative endings, behind the scenes information, interviews with cast and crew, and directors' commentaries. DVD supports up to 32 different language subtitle options and eight audio tracks, which means that, theoretically, you can watch your favorite movie in French with Japanese titles.
As with a CD player, you can skip straight to your favorite scene. And you can view various versions (contained on different tracks that are seamlessly integrated into the full movie) of the movie on the same disc.
DVD players actually include programmable MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) limits to prevent your kids from viewing inappropriate material. So you can watch the adult version of a movie and let your kids watch the same movie with the gore and nudity removed - all from one disc.
For an entirely different viewing perspective, DVD technology allows you to switch between nine discrete camera angles in a single scene. Obviously of benefit to the multi-billion dollar pornographic industry. You can expect to see recorded sports events and concerts using this feature in the future.
If you don't have DVD, you're missing out on one of the most exciting technological revolutions in home entertainment.