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DVD Has Redefined Home Entertainment

28 Aug, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

My cup runneth over.

DVD has changed the way I watch TV — I don't.

DVD has changed the way I collect software — my CDs no longer mean beans, and my DVDs, my precious DVDs, are spilling out of every conceivable shelf, closet, rack, box and spare suitcase.

I can't get rid of any, and I can't stop bringing them home. Now, I'd hardly consider myself Joe Average Consumer (or Joe Average Anything, as I'm sure those of you who know me will attest).

But the DVD craze is certainly causing a heck of a lot of movies to wind up in peoples' homes, and it's starting to make a dent in other forms of media.

CD's woes, I am convinced, wouldn't be quite as severe if it wasn't for DVD. I've got no research to back me up, but my hunch is that the collectors among us have switched gears, causing a ding in CD sales every bit as damaging than file-sharing and the fact that there's no real star with any sort of staying power.

I was listening recently to a radio talk show, and the topic was the crap on TV — nothing new there. Many of the callers phoned in to say they no longer watch TV — again, nothing new. But of the non-TV watchers, virtually every one did have a DVD player, telling the host that this way he can control what his family watches. I don't recall hearing that in the VHS-only days.

My point — and sorry it's taken so long to get to it — is that DVD has gotten beyond being a true pop cultural phenomenon.

It's changed the way we perceive home entertainment and the way we regard TV. The box in the family room isn't a receiver; it's a player. DVD represents the ultimate in pick-and-choose technology.

For years, TV viewers have been complaining that they don't have a choice. Even when the 12-channel expanded into 100, 200, 500 or even more channels, one would hear cries of “there's nothing good on” — a function, I believe, more of navigation than of content.

When VHS came into the picture, it certainly triggered a change in viewing patterns, but it was always a complement. We'd use the VCR to record our favorite shows, and then pop in movies during rerun season.

Only with DVD has home video gone from a complement to a replacement. We're in control — full control — thanks to random access. And now that we've tasted how good it can be, we aren't ever going to let go.

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