DVD buys should be delayed, say experts

SPLASHING out hundreds of euro on a DVD recorder this Christmas is not a good idea, experts warn.

Some of the recordable DVDs on sale now from around 700 upwards may not survive the battle for market supremacy.

Rival manufacturers have all launched machines that use different recording formats and a single one has yet to emerge.

While pre-recorded DVDs from shops will work on all of the machines, a DVD recorded on one system will not play on another.

There are three different recordable DVD players available on the Irish market, out of a total of five available worldwide. So it is no surprise Sony is delaying the release of its DVD recorder.

In the 1980s those who bought a Betamax video recorder were left with a virtually useless piece of technology after the rival VHS became the main player and ruled the market until DVD came along.

Sony intends to bring out a DVD recorder, with four formats, in March 2003.

The magazine, What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, is now warning consumers to wait until they can be sure they are putting their money on the winning format.

"At the moment, our advice is to avoid buying a turkey this Christmas delay your purchase of a DVD recorder until a single winning format emerges," says editor Andy Clough.

Approximately 5% of Irish households have a DVD player but the warning relates to those who have a recording facility as well and can cost as much as 1,700.

The three manufacturers of DVD recorders are Philips, Panasonic and Pioneer.

Philips uses a format called DVD+RW, Panasonic prefers DVD Ram, while Pioneer have opted for DVD-RW.

Clough says two of the three standards for recording on the Irish market will go the same way as Betamax.

"Over the next year, prices will plummet and hopefully a single standard will emerge." Since the DVD recorder became available two years' ago prices have dropped by about 100%.

However, Panasonic, is insisting that the battle between the three recordable DVD makers may not result in one single machine dominating the market.

A spokesperson for Phillips thought What Hi-Fi? was being overly cautious. Unlike Betamax consumers are not going to be left with something they cannot use, he said.

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