Pioneer calls a halt to LaserDisc hardware production
Still making players, 18 years on
Pioneer is to stop making LaserDisc players. Yes - amazingly, perhaps - it's still punching them out, and will produce 3000 more before calling it quits.
Despite the rise of DVD in the late 1990s, the emergence more recently of Blu-ray Disc and the fact that no new LaserDisc titles have been released in the US since 2000 and Japan since 2001, Pioneer still has machines supporting the format in its line-up.
It's been making machine that support the format since 1980, since when it's shipped 9.5m of them, it claimed. Overall LaserDisc hardware sales total 16.8m it added, by way of pointing out it accounts for more than half of them.
These days, LaserDisc has found a niche in the karaoke market - two of Pioneer's last three LaserDisc players are support the singalong technology. They're also DVD players.
While the information on a LaserDisc is read using a laser - just like CDs and DVDs - the video and audio information was analog not digital. Later LaserDiscs aquired digital soundtracks, including surround sound. Despite the analog video, LaserDisc still yielded a better picture than home videotape, thanks to its higher resolution. Fans argue the picture's better than DVD, because there are no data-compression artefacts. LaserDiscs didn't suffer picture degradation over time as VHS does.
Pioneer's VP-1000: the company's first LaserDisc player, released in 1980
Image courtesy LaserDisc UK
But they couldn't record and so never achieved the widespread use that VHS won. In turn, that prevented prices falling to match tapes and players.
But Pioneer, for one, carried on with the format. It claims it's getting out of the business at long last because "it has become difficult for Pioneer to procure the parts required to produce LD players".
That said, Pioneer added it will maintain "the spare parts required to restore the normal functions of Pioneer LD players during the minimum storage period". ®
"LaserDisc stays the videophile's Vinyl" absolutely. Just like vinyl, the performance is markedly worse than the digital equivalent (OK, LD is PARTIALLY digital) yet a strange band of enthusiasts still claim otherwise. And, just like vinyl, handling the media is a delicate, if joyous, operation. Anyone who's never seen a 12" optical disc is missing out.
LD outlived the VCR! Who'd have thought?!
Wow, Laserdisc outlived VCRs...
LD is STILL, and by the looks of things will be forever, the best quality home viewable version of Star Wars before Lucas "South Parked" it.
Han Shoots first (In the new versions the whole meaning of Solo's redemption from nasty guy to good is lost), and ILM models complete with go motion animation has a character to it that the CGI stuff done on for the "Special Editions" sorely lacks.
No I don't have a projector and deteriorating print of it, I'm not quite THAT nuts.
I suppose that makes me a luddite. I buy my music on Vinyl too. Smaller selection available, but no Paris Hilton songs!
As a side note, is anyone else disturbed by the lack of any LEGAL mass market method of recording and keeping lots of TV these days? No VCRs, TiVO and other hardware DVRs have long term archiving & storage issues, and the TV Company DVRs are not even work joking about..
Sure there are several computer based PVRs free of DRM, but ithey take a Reg Reader to configure and maintain. Even then the results are mixed as everyone is doing their best to lock them out of being able to record anything worthwhile.
No, I doing want to pay per view, no I don't want to have a subscription to be able to watch movies years after some anonymous committee has decided that they don't want to bother with them, and I want to be able to preserve (Like for years) random TV shows that will never get a release.
It's taken a while but it's close to the point where the "Betamax Ruling" has become irrelevant.
Farewell, my love. It was beautiful whilst it lasted :)
LD excelled with DLP Projection onto a large screen - much less picture compression and not marred by LCD chicken wire mesh or macro-blocking.
DVD blown up onto a large screen just revealed MPEGiness - blocks, smears, and slight staggered vision on panning shots. LD may not have been as sharp looking as DVD but, is far more fluid, less distracting and thus, more engaging to just sit back watch the movie.
It's a shame LD never took off, whatever the reason(s).
Recordability, Copy Protection, Porn availability, Cost, the annoying flip over point halfway through a movie or, getting up to insert disc 3 and 4. Ahh, memories!
According to Pioneer's market research, women supposedly played a small role in this formats' success/demise, also.
Ironically, it appears that size DOES matter.
On this occassion, apparently, women preferred a 5 incher over a 12 incher.
There's no pleasing some people!
Well, with size in mind IBM have something up their sleeve for the future.... Photonics.
The world's fastest optical transceiver, which can send and receive data at 160 gigabits per second, eight times faster than currently available optical components. And, it measures 3.25 mm by 5.25 mm
Before that arrives, Blu-Ray's natural successor looks likely to be the HVD (Holographic Versatile Disc). A 1TB (one terabyte or 1000 giabyte) disc. It can hold the equivalent 200 standard DVDs, with a transfer speed of over 1 gigabit per second, or 40 times faster than a DVD. By comparison, single layer Blu-ray discs hold about 25GB of data while Dual-Layer discs can contain 50GB. Movies can already be captured at 2160p and, the HVD would have no problem containing and outputting this size & resolution. However, this probably won't kick in until 2019. Blu-Ray, 1080p plasma, lcd, displays, & video cameras have at least 10 years shelf life left, before we all start selling and re-buying our favourite films/tv progs.
I feel sorry for the actors and make-up artists. Who wants to be seen, close-up, in 2160p besides a shark?!
Laserdisc, i love you. I shall remember you fondly. When I'm very old, I will 'wow' my grandchildren (if i have any) with my original (no-cgi edition) of Star Wars box set.
I feel old just thinking about it!