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22 Jun, 2001 By: Bruce Apar

It was the day before Father’s Day and we had just screened in our backporch. (In New York’s Hudson Valley, summering in the backyard is a buggy experience.) I realized that if more time was to be spent in this new Florida room, there had to be a good view of Woods (as in golf) aswell as woods (as in greenery).

Coincidentally, that weekend newspaper’s freestanding insert from The Wiz (a regional electronics and entertainment chain) featured on its front page what was catnip to this gadget-lover: a 9-inch Toshiba portable TV with -- here’s the beauty part -- built-in DVD. TVCR combos are plentiful, but this I had never seen (and even Toshiba’s Web sitedidn’t list it).

When I sheepishly showed it to the family’s CFO, she thought it was as neat as I did. Before I woke up from this dream I was on my way to The Wiz, which was packed with customers. As the family CFO noted, "So much for the weak economy."

After putting it in place, I realized the ubiquity of DVD in my life all of a sudden. Set-top players, DVD-ROMs in the desktop and laptop, DVD inthe PlayStation2 in my son’s room and now DVD on the porch. My brother-in-law just bought a pre-owned vehicle (remember the good ol’ days when they were simply used cars?) that came with a GPS navigation system that is powered by a DVD.

If there’s supposed to be a moral to this shaggy dog story -- and I feel morally obligated to offer one -- it’s that the more DVD drives find their way into our lives, the less satisfying it is to just feed them with movies. They’re too long and distracting for outdoor environments and the 9-inch screen doesn’t exactly do justice to Cast Away.

Call me crazy -- you’ll have to stand in line -- but having a DVD outside conjures instructional golf DVDs and even barbecue DVDs. I slipped into the Toshiba a DVD from the PBS Ken Burns Jazz series released by Warner Home Video. You don’t even have to fix your gaze on the screen to enjoy it and, unlike most movies, it can be experienced in short bursts without disrupting continuity.

It is not insignificant that Cadillac, according to a recent issue of Advertising Age, decided to send 500,000 DVD-ROMs (instead of CD-ROMs) to target prospects. Featured on the disc is a game that offersrecipients the chance to win an Escalade SUV. The article notes that 60% of the target audience "had DVD access and liked gaming." A Cadillac spokesman noted, "We are a luxury brand and we wanted to produce the best product there is."

In other words, CD-ROM and VHS take a back seat.

Comments? Contact Bruce directly at:bapar@advanstar.com

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