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DVD Player Ownership Surpasses VCR Ownership 180

Posted by Zonk
from the just-in-time-for-a-new-format dept.
An anonymous reader wrote to mention an Ars Technica post stating that, for the first time, more U.S. consumers own a DVD player than own a VCR. The DVD player dropped below $100 quite some time ago, but the third quarter of this year saw the percentage of DVD player ownership reach 81.2. Only 79.2% of consumers now own VCR players, reports Nielsen. From the article: "For all of the talk about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray, both technologies are far, far away from most family rooms. Yes, the two are just now beginning what could be a long battle for entertainment-center supremacy, but keep in mind that the technology that they are vying to replace has only recently gained the upper hand against the previous-generation technology--a decade after first being introduced. Even if Blu-ray or HD DVD unexpectedly routs its opponent from the market in the next two or three years, it will still be several more years before the victorious format supplants the DVD."
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DVD Player Ownership Surpasses VCR Ownership

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  • Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by priestx (822223) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:11PM (#17367900) Homepage
    Does this count dual-players, such as a DVD-VCR combos? That's all I really use, anyways.
    I'm sure if they were to count that, it wouldn't be important, as it would just even off things, but a large percentage of households actually uses both I would suspect.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hurfy (735314)
      I would imagine that's why it took so long to overtake VCR. I suppose a few young couples or something may have gotten stand-alone DVD to finally push the DVD over the top.

      When i got a DVD i got a combo too. I am planning on keeping both around but i imagine many got it just in case, since the diference if any is very small. Most units i see hooked up are dual units in fact.

      Of course the question may have a lot too do with it. Having a VCR is diferent than using a VCR or buying tapes. How many people HAVE a
    • I would assume that a combo unit counts for both... the percentages shown definitely indicate that households owning one of each were counted in both categories, so I would think it safe to say that a combo counts for both as well.
  • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:12PM (#17367918)
    Since VHS is out. They win by default.

    Seriously, BluRay and HD won't be common place until 2012 at this rate.

    By then, we'll have iPod like devices that could hold more video than a Station wagon full of BlueRay discs.
    • by CDMA_Demo (841347) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:17PM (#17367952) Homepage
      No one will ever use the full capacity of BluRay station wagon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by troll -1 (956834)
      Seriously, BluRay and HD won't be common place until 2012 at this rate.

      And by that time everything will be streamed. Moving data around on funny plastic disks just doesn't make much sense when you have an Internet. The only reason for these formats is 1) There currently isn't enough bandwidth for everyone to stream hi-def content on-demand. 2) Content owners don't want their stuff streamed because of copyright concerns. But as hi-speed Internet access becomes as ubiquitous as DRM becomes unpopular, BluRa
    • by Babbster (107076)

      Seriously, BluRay and HD won't be common place until 2012 at this rate.

      At what rate? Any predictive analysis of future BD or HD-DVD penetration based on less than a year of data is pointless at best and dishonest at worst. DVD grew faster than any other similar technology (CD and VHS being two significant examples) and it still took 8 years to pass VHS. This, despite the last few years when DVD players have been virtually an impulse buy at under $100.

      I picked up a DVD player in its second year of ava

  • by wikthemighty (524325) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:18PM (#17367970)
    ...their VCR has died recently, and they haven't bothered to replace it!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shivetya (243324)
      I haven't had a VCR hooked up to my entertainment system for years. When my parents recently asked if I had one they could use in the RV I had to dig it out. I never really did the rental routine and as such I found myself using one less and less, until one day I put in a new rack for my entertainment system and never migrated the VCR to it.

      I long ago switched to only DVDs. I have 300+ in my collection, finally surpassing my CD collection. Now with a DVR provided by my satellite service I have no need.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by powerlord (28156)

        Plus, nothing looks worse on my HD than a VCR'd movie, 'cept maybe CD based movies

        I thought I would agree with you, but I'm not so sure.

        We (my wife and I) recently upgraded to a 720p 32" TV. We've got HD feeds via cable, and an Series 3 TiVo.

        The signal looks great, and we got rid of a whole mess of VCR tapes that were just cluttering up room, but we hung on to a couple that we wanted to watch. I finally got around to hooking up the VCR via a set RCA cables and, while the picture quality certainly ain't gr

        • by jedidiah (1196)
          VHS simple doesn't have the recording resolution. That's one of the big advantages of DVD. You got the image quality you maybe could have gotten with beta if not for the fact that it didn't win the format wars. Progressive DVDs take the most of what you could have gotten with vhs/beta and then doubles that.

          Progressive DVD's on a large 720p set can look quite respectable.

          If you have a tiny screen, I really can't see you percieving much benefit of HD though...
          • by powerlord (28156)

            VHS simple doesn't have the recording resolution. That's one of the big advantages of DVD.

            I know VHS has a lower resolution, but what surprised me was how little it made a difference in our viewing conditions, which I hardly believe are atypical.
            Not everyone in the world has the space for a 40"+ plasma TV, especially as more and more people seem to be settling for less and less space in the major metropolitan cities of the U.S., Japan, and Europe (or those wanting a second TV for the bedroom, guest-room, de

            • by kisrael (134664)
              I have an anecdote that supports you 100%... this was a few years ago,
              one of the LotR films had just come out to rental, but we were too late for the DVD, just VHS. So, new tape, obviously, but on our 36" regular television, I remember thinking "you know, DVDs don't look much better than this".

              DVDs have their advantages: pausing on a VCR does tend to look terrible, random access, enough space for amusing goodies and alternate sound tracks, and generally looking good on a bookshelf, but I'll bet you if the r
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                (Heh, in fact, maybe one reason DVD is perceived as so much better is people who had to upgrade coax-only televisions to something that could at least take in RCA jacks, since Macrovision made DVD over coax a no go!)

                There are DVD players with RF encoders that can speak to your TV. Most of them are combo devices (VCR+DVD) but not all. The macrovision problem is that you can't run a DVD player into a VCR and then into your TV because the VCR will listen to your macrovision signal - but televisions ignore it.

                • by kisrael (134664)
                  Yeah, over the years I've played with a lot of various setups. I knew I didn't *need* to upgrade from a cheap 27" to a buddha like 36" just for the macrovision'/DVD issue, but it didn't hurt.

                  I currently use a DVD/VCR combo in lieu of a cable box for my video projector that I use instead of a tv. And I had a box to let me plug RCA stuff into an old coax-only tv. And another box to let an old 19" surplus monitor act as a TV screen in a pinch.

                  I gotta admit, I don't have a strong grasp of the latest connectors.
                  • by drinkypoo (153816)
                    I gotta admit, I don't have a strong grasp of the latest connectors. There's S-Video and Component, and my new holiday-gift-to-myself projecter has this one "DVI" input that I don't know what would use... I guess a PS3 or HD disc player?

                    High end PC video cards have DVI output, but yes, if it's a HDMI-equipped DVI port, a PS3 could connect through it.

                    • by kisrael (134664)
                      I have no idea if its HDMI equipped but I really don't know...

                      I would say that that kind of crap, stories of hardware not working out, could kill BlueRay/HD-DVD quick; but if the signal just "degrades gracefully", people probaby won't even notice.
                    • by powerlord (28156)
                      High end PC video cards have DVI output, but yes, if it's a HDMI-equipped DVI port, a PS3 could connect through it.


                      Or perhaps a MacMini (not at all what I would consider "high end", but certainly a possible HTPC, especially if you love iTunes).
                    • Quick vocabulary lesson.

                      DVI-- Digital Video Interface. What most of us have been using to connect LCDs to our computers. Some DVI ports have analog pins, for backwards compatibility with CRTs.

                      HDMI-- High Definition Multimedia Interface. Digital Video plus Digital Audio. A dongle can be used to convert it into DVI.

                      HDCP- High Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection. The key exchange/ encryption protocol used to encrypt DVI or HDCP. Some DVI devices can use HDCP. Most if not all HDMI devices can.

                      If your projector's
                    • The resolution is halved in each direction-- a 1080*1920 (1080p) signal is picture to 540*960. I'm not sure what happens to a 720p picture.

                      I get the impression that most people won't notice-- a well calibrated HDTV set displaying HD material can be truly stunning, but many people seem to be satisfied with DVD over composite.
      • I have friends at work who moved their Disney collections for their children to DVD, taken straight from the VCR tapes.

        These copies fade in and out in time with the Macrovision signals as required by section 1201, right?

    • by eln (21727)
      After my VCR suffered a crayon-related fatality, I simply replaced it with a DVD/VCR combo. These days, you can get one of those for maybe 10 bucks more than a standalone VCR.
    • by dattaway (3088) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:00PM (#17368412) Homepage Journal
      I used to fix VCR's for the tune of half their value (hey, its business!) and quickly discovered the design is a time bomb. The rubber parts rot, the heads clog, and has a loading mechanism that's a magnet for kids to store stuff in there. Its a matter of time before the population of VCR's drop to zero. It will happen faster than the life of a lithium battery or the charges on an EPROM die out.

      10 years from now, 90% of all VCR's will be out of commission. Transfer your tapes to other storage now!
    • ...their VCR has died recently, and they haven't bothered to replace it!
      For me, I just finally got tired of watching the clock constantly flashing "12:00".
    • by antdude (79039)
      Then, how do you record stuff? I assume you had a VCR for recordings.
      • I always thought of myself as a diehard keeper of old formats. I still have open-reel tape decks. Strangely, I haven't used my vcr in years now. I mostly used it to record TV shows but now I just get them from emule. I haven't found any shows currently on the air that aren't widely available. I won't even care when analog TV dies. I just don't use it anymore.
  • But then.. who can blame them?

    Anyone want to take a ballpark guess what kind of ROI they land if every movie studio had to license Blu-Ray on every movie they released to disc?

    I'm guessing (purely from the posterior region) it'd land in the Billions over the life of the product.

    -GiH
    • by damsa (840364)
      Also since Sony has a movie studio, if HD-DVD format dies then Sony would also save Billions over the life of the product.
  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:25PM (#17368024) Journal
    it will still be several more years before the victorious format supplants the DVD.

    I will "upgrade" to the best HD format only when it counts as an actual upgrade - Meaning I can play it, in full resolution, on a Linux box.

    Note that I don't include the word "legally" in that condition... A broken-feature-reenabling ripper (like DVD Decrypter used to do for region coding, macrovision, and button lockout) will work just as well as an authorized player.

    So, which group will give me what I want first? Sony, Toshiba, or DVD-Jon? The winner takes all.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:26PM (#17368034)
    Much as I love the features of the DVD if paired with an equally capable player, the DVD has its own [ugly] issues. Despite the fact that it's a modern invention, nobody can even come close to guaranteeing that the DVD medium (the disc) can withstand storage for long times.

    Can any slashdotter convince me that if I had properly stored important video media on a disc in say 20 years ago, this disc would still be readable now? With proper storage, the video cartridge would still be readable now after that long. This is my beef with DVDs.

    • The guy on the Digital Production Buzz radio show said that his DVDs had survived over five years being improperly stored in hot and humid warehouse, without glitch.

      I don't use optical media for backups. I just keep them on-line on my main storage, plus an off-line external hard drive and a RAID-5 that's a ways away. I figure that I have to lose a minimum of four drives in order to lose any data, and I think that would take a pretty major catastrophe that I might not survive in order to lose data.
    • by asuffield (111848)

      Despite the fact that it's a modern invention, nobody can even come close to guaranteeing that the DVD medium (the disc) can withstand storage for long times.

      Nobody even tries. Optical media is not for archiving. Wrong technology for the purpose. And even if we had good archive-grade optical technology, the DVD would be a stupid form factor to archive anything in - it's designed for portability and retail advantages, and is entirely wrong for long-term storage. It's just too thin to be tough enough. (As an

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:27PM (#17368040) Homepage
    DVDs beat the pants off of VCRs in the following areas:

    Image quality.
    Random access.
    Extra features on-media.

    VCRs still cling to live mainly because it doesn't cost anything to not throw them away, and because of recording.

    Let me know when the number of PVRs outnumbers the number of VCRs. That's when the transition will truly be complete.

    Of couse p2p Video on Demand services (as represented by YouTube and BitTorrent piracy networks) probably blows both away in the middle to long run.
    • And VCRs don't require monthly subscription fees. Hence, why I haven't gotten a DVR. Sure, I can build my own, but that's too much work. I just want a hardware based device PVR, and not a computer based.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Frankly I don't think the image quality matters that much. It doesn't matter in most situations or to most people. But the random access (from whence most of the "special features" of which you speak are derived) is a huge deal. The other big deal is the fact that it supports multiple streams; you can select one of many audio and/or video streams, and you can select one or more subtitle streams. That's a really big deal.
    • Another reason VCRs stick around is the accumulation of VHS cassettes many people (like me) tend to have.

      These fall into three catagories:

      • Licensed Content - we have lots of Disney movbies for the kids;
      • Recorded Content - we don't have much, but we have the odd home video (we don't take that many);
      • Gift Content - Grandma sends a cassette of something: an old movie recorded from analog TV (try explaining to Grandma about copyright) or a tape she made.

      As for recorded, and gift content, this tend to eithe

    • by dfn_deux (535506)
      AND VHS has a strong history of legal precedent allowing consumer recording and place/time shifting.... The same doesn't exist for digital media and the legal world seems to be swaying in the direction of keeping that from ever happening.
  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:30PM (#17368068)
    I dont think the old metric will make much sense with these new HD players. When released they'll probably be able to play both HD (bluray, hddvd, whahever) and standard DVDs. There will be no reason to keep a stand-alone DVD player. They'll just end up as hand me downs to the kids or collect dust.

      After a while the HD players will be cheap enough that it will be smart futureproofing to buy a HD player without a HDtv, in the hopes that your next tv will be HD. Hell, there's no shortage of component out dvd players plugged in with composite cables or through RF converter boxes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Its the pressed media price and everything else. Thats what finally got me. I found VHS/DVD combos just under $100 and my Best Buy offered almost anything I wanted in my library for $10 (simply watching weekly specials) and around $20 for special things or multi-part stuff. I finally said why not. With blank media prices around a quarter or less and burner prices under $50, I finally made the leap. A perfect DVD storm had approached and it only happened to me last spring. And normally I am not a luddite, my
  • by RiotXIX (230569) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:37PM (#17368150) Journal
    Jeez, give it a rest. I have money, but do you honestly think I'm going to subscribe to another new format for at least 10 years? We aren't all tech-writers. I might just skip this technology fasion trend and go for the one in one or two generations, just like I will with consoles. And even then I'll be content with my DVD library. Just like I am with CD-audio quality and good speakers. And I'm speaking as a tech nerd as well. Uprgrading would simply be burning money, which I don't feel, whether I had the money or not, would be a good idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bigpat (158134)
      There are people who are desperate to get as many articles on Blue Ray and HD-DVD written in order to push both the format of the media and HD technology in general. There are 10s, if not 100s, of billions of dollars at stake and plenty of marketing money to grease tech writers and publishers wheels. The government too has a horse in this race as digital television must not only succeed but at least appear to be popular in the market to justify the forced change over to HD that is taking place. Eventuall
    • HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are not consumer driven technologies even though there are some consumers who have been waiting for High-Def content for nearly a decade. These formats are being driven by media companies (who need you to re-buy ET, Starwars and The Fifth Element every few years to boost their profit margin) and electronics manufacturers (who lost a lot of money when people stoped buying Sony DVD players and started buying Apex Digital DVD players).

      The question is whether the existence of a HD format will
    • "HD" is supposed to be a big selling point.

      HDTV-- a big improvement over NTSC TV. More resolution, better sound, stable colors.

      HD Audio -- (SACD, DVD-Audio). A marginal improvement over CD, unless you have a quiet listening room, and good equipment, or like surround sound music.

      HD-DVD/Bluray-- HD resolution, yes, but DVD was already far superior to NTSC TV. Allegedly necessary on larger screens, but on smaller screens the improvement is more subtle. Sometimes gives the illusion of being 3D, and objects with
  • I thought this had already happened a while ago. I remember walking through WalMart they other day and seeing a DVD player for around $70 and thinking of how affordable they have gotten. They technology is more reliable, I'd even say that for VCRs made recently. I still can't believe my PS2 still plays DVDs after 4 years. And it's been shipped halfway around the world, been left on for days, manhandled by my children, etc. I guess while "they don't make them like they used to" is true for cars, it does
    • by rk (6314) *

      I guess it's all luck of the draw. My PS2, not manhandled by kids, only occasionally used, and never left on didn't last two years. Maybe it died of loneliness.

    • by Aladrin (926209)
      $70? Try $40 man. $40 DVD players can be found at almost any electronics store now. (Not that I buy the cheapest ones... I like features.)

      As for VHS hardware quality... DVD players (even the $40 ones) FAR beat the VHS player quality and have for quite some time. I'd even go as far as to say that really OLD VHS players were a lot better quality than what we have today. I still remember when my parents replaced the old top-loading VCR with a new front-load model, because we'd had that old one for SO lo
      • For $40 after rebate you can get a fancy-pants Divx/XVid-playing DVD player at Circuit City (DVP642). The bottom-of-the-barrel ones are coming in at $25-$30 nowadays.
        • by Aladrin (926209)
          Actually, I meant without a rebate... and yeah, most of the cheap ones play divx now. I was amazed when I saw the first one. Now I'm disgusted whenever I find one that didn't bother.
        • There's a site that runs benchmarks on dvd players [hometheaterhifi.com]. In a sense, it's a selective benchmark, focusing mainly on deinterlacer performance. The DVP-642 scores a 52/100, meaning that it has some bugs, and if a disc is authored incorrectly (as many are), the picture will look rather poor. In that respect, it's not a fancy pants player like this one [hometheaterhifi.com] or this one [hometheaterhifi.com]

          I'm not even sure that it's the "best bang for the buck"-- looks like the Toshiba SD760 [hometheaterhifi.com] is rather decent, though.

          There are a number of discs in my collect
  • As there are combo DVD and VCR's as well as TV, DVD, and VCR Combos.
  • I am pretty sure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dizzy8578 (106660) *
    these stats do not include the half dozen dead cheap dvd players I have sitting in the garage.

    I don't care if it is a brand name of not, the cheap crap or the expensive dvd recorder/tuner, they all lasted just a few days longer than the warranty.

    I use the computer to play dvds. At least the internal drives are cheap enough to replace when they die.

  • I'm going to assume they're not counting computers or laptops (heck even throw in those portable DVD players) since those alone should outnumber VCR's. Given that more people are watching DVD's through different technologies I question if the standalone DVD player is a useful metric.
  • The usage of said VCR. My parents are one of those that own a VCR, but it does not get any usage. They were just talking about that this last weekend that they would probably get rid of it by donating it to Good Will or something like that because it has more usefulness as a tax write off that playing a video.

    So, this study begs the question, of those that do own the VCR, how many actually still use it? I would dare say that it would be pretty scant because of the ubiquitousness and superiority of the DV
  • Even if Blu-ray or HD DVD unexpectedly routs its opponent from the market in the next two or three years, it will still be several more years before the victorious format supplants the DVD.

    Which is exactly why I'm going to be waiting "several more years" before I bother getting a "next-gen" DVD player.
  • The percentage would probably be even less if you discounted those who have VCRs on their equipment shelf just because they're too lazy to remove them.
    I have one on my rack, and the only reason I've put a tape in it for the last couple of years was to convert some VHS tapes to DVD for a friend. If there are still tapes around the house, they're in a box in the basement just waiting to be thrown out.

    The last possible reason for using it went away when I put the DVR box in place. I'm happy not to be screwin
  • ...the DVD player was no substitute for a VCR, but the DVR they bought is. Just because you don't use the recording capability doesn't mean that others do. Personally, I don't watch much broadcast TV because it comes way too late. Did it air in the US/UK yesterday? Do the people I know online talk about it? Yes. Do I want to be left out "Yeah I'll comment on that in a year... maybe"? No. That means I'm going to get it, your only choice is how. Movie theaters have already figured this out, TV stations must b
  • $150 hd-dvd player (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmichaelg (148257) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:56PM (#17368900) Journal
    I was in Best Buy a couple of days ago and saw Microsoft's 360 HD-DVD player for $150. Anandtech had given it a favorable review [anandtech.com] and noted that the player could just as easily be hooked up to PC as an xbox. If you already have a hi def screen with an xbox it seems to be a slam dunk purchase. If you don't have the xbox but you have a sufficiently robust pc, you can either watch hi def on your computer monitor or, if your setup allows it, on your HD screen via your PC.

    Lots of folks are hedging as to which format will win out but my impression is that if you can buy a player for $150 that gives you an image that's equivalent to a solution that costs 4 times as much and is unavailable, that gives a huge boost to HD-DVD. I say "equivalent" because the initial side by side reviews don't give either format an edge. Another factor is Netflix - you can rent either format from them so your exposure to risking committing to a dead end format is substantially reduced. When the first players came out at $1,000 not many people bit. Now that you can get one player at $150, it strikes me a lot more people will make the jump and it isn't going to be to Blu-Ray.
  • Will it really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @03:14PM (#17369042)
    it will still be several more years before the victorious format supplants the DVD.

    If ever. This particular format war isn't being handled very well, it seems to me. Such conflicts are invariably bad for the consumer in the short run since we have to guess which tech will come out on top and whoever guesses wrong gets his fingers burnt. Why can't they all just get along? PICK ONE! I don't really care which at this point. Is it just that Sony is still smarting from the Betamax fiasco? If it turns out after all this hate and discontent that the consumer doesn't find a use for the next-generation of shiny plastic discs it'll be just too bad. Worse for them, sooner or later China is going to be able to foist their version of a next-gen SPD (Shiny Plastic Disc) on the world. They'd better just get with the program and give the consumer what he and she wants now. Period. Or they may find their own technologies irrelevant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrcaseyj (902945)
      I just realized the other day that this Bluray vs HD-DVD competition isn't a bad thing for consumers. It's actually a great thing. With the Beta/VHS competition consumers suffered because there was no cheap way to make a player that could play both formats. But the Bluray and HD-DVD discs are physically identical in shape (I think) and could probably both be easily read by a single player. What this means is that there will be real competition and therefore lower prices. As soon as one format starts to show
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Have Blue (616)
      Neither format is going to win. They're both going to be killed by electronic distribution.
      • Yes ... that ultimately is the issue and actually both camps have admitted this, that widespread use of physical media will come to an end and that they are only trying to squeeze the last drop of life from it. Well, okay, they didn't put it quite that way, but close.
  • $20 DVD player (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GregoryD (646395)
    My local superstore carries a very generic DVD player for $29.99 regular price and they have gone on sale for $19.99. That is absolutely nuts you can get a player at less then the cost of some DVDs.
  • Have they counted DVD-ROM computer drives? (And, for that matter, PCs hooked up to plasma screens?) I guess no. Why I'd be getting a TV set just to play a movie? No thanks, the computer does this just fine, and with better image quality.

    Just by looking around the media stores, I gather DVDs have trumped VHS years ago.
  • I should probably get rid of my laser disk player?

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