What DVD was a
spin-off from Home
Entertainment and flourished briefly in the early days of DVD, when it was
still a bit of a novelty and players were eye-wateringly expensive. Once again I
found myself involved with a technology, both as a reviewer and Agony Aunt (‘Dr
DVD’) during its most exciting period of development, though this time it
was slightly different. Unlike computers, video recorders and
camcorders, which took several years to become established
consumer products, DVD went from a high-price luxury to a commodity item in the
space of just three years. The technology matured in an amazingly short
space of time but from a writing point of view it was becoming increasingly
difficult to wax lyrical about a succession of near-identical black boxes,
often with exactly the same guts, quite obviously all coming from the same factory sometimes selling for £49.99 in supermarkets and £149.99 in hi-fi dealers...
Nevertheless there was always lots of technical problems to sort out and in particular the vexed question of multi-region operation and 'hack' or 'crack' codes for DVD players, so they could play DVDs from the USA. At its peak I was getting several hundred letters and emails a week seeking codes, scores of which appear in the Crack Code Clinic sections of the Dr DVD articles.