There continues to be chaos in the world of recordable DVDs. The blur of acronyms has not changed in the last year or two – DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-Ram and the rest. There is some movement to reduce the impact on consumers by making players that can play all the formats, but you’re still well advised to stay away from digital video until you’re ready to study hard.

There will be a separate kind of confusion arriving soon. The technology and entertainment industries have plans for the next generation of DVDs, hoping to replace the current format for prerecorded DVDs with new discs that can hold significantly more content. Theoretically that would allow higher quality pictures and crisper sound. Here’s an article that explains the competing formats – the HD-DVD, backed by a group led by Toshiba and NEC, and Blu-ray discs, promoted by Sony, Philips, and other electronics giants.

The recording industry profited enormously when we replaced our LPs and tapes with CDs, and it’s frantically trying to repeat history by inventing high quality replacements for audio CDs. Look for “SACD” and “DVD audio,” promising better sound than the CDs we bought a few years ago. I hear no buzz in the market for any of it – most people are perfectly happy with their CDs and see no reason to churn their collection again.

Right now it feels like these new DVD formats are in the same position. Perhaps high-definition TVs will become widespread and expose the weaknesses of current DVDs – but as we sit here today, are you dying to replace your DVD players and your entire DVD collection to get better quality pictures?

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