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DVDs to suit every pocket

December 06, 2003

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has an exclusive tie-up with Asia Vision Home Entertainment. Its Indian licensee will be manufacturing DVDs in India for the first time.

What's more, this is the first time a Hollywood studio will manufacture and distribute DVDs here, retailing them at a reasonable Rs 599.

The DVDs will be packed with a lot of additional excitement like games, puzzles, screensavers and many other downloads.

Nasdaq-listed Digital Video Systems is amongst the new hardware vendors in the country.

It is setting up a manufacturing plant for consumer electronics, including DVD players and recorders, in Bangalore. And its investment? $25 million. The plant will initially produce 18 million units a year, for domestic as well as global sales.

So why is India being seen as a DVD destination now, more than ever before? Quite simply because of the tremendous inroads that the DVD has made in every nook and corner of the country.

A year ago, a base DVD player wouldn't cost less than Rs 10,000. Today, players like Beltek and Oscar, which play the volume game, are introducing cheaper products by the hour.

Beltek already has a Rs 4,990 DVD model with the mandatory functions like perspective scan, digital Dolby and 5.1 surround sound. But to make a further dent in the market, it is all set to launch a model at Rs 3,990.

"In the earlier model, we used Sony components but for the cheaper model, we will be using Korean and Chinese components," reveals R S Kandhari of Beltek.

He predicts that the DVD market will overtake the VCD market within the next two years. "India is one of the few countries in the world where VCDs continue to thrive," he adds.

Nevertheless, the hardware manufacturers are taking the initiative and have brought prices down.

Apart from Beltek, others like Crown, Videocon and T-Series are also flooding the entry level video buff with options.

The grey market is thriving with brands like Fujitel that have DVD players with features like built in FM radio, game player, speakers with a full function remote control and even karaoke and 'echo' effects at an unbelievable Rs 2,000.

Catering to a price-sensitive customer, other companies peddling cheaper wares include Salora's 2250K, Samsung's S138, Japanese giant Sony's S30, LG's DV 7711P and BPL's DVD1500.

Crown's DVD and Thomson's DTH250 are both priced at Rs 6,950, T-Series' entry product retails at Rs 5,000 and Videocon's DV 3030 comes at Rs 5,500. Sony India has also drawn up plans to aggressively market its newly-launched range of Aiwa audio products. The new-look Aiwa is launching a stand-alone DVD player at Rs 7,990.

But if you are interested in making drawing room statements, the Philips DVD 733K is the ideal luxury offering for you. With add ons like the karaoke and language learning facility (which helps you learn to sing or perfect your pronunciation), and priced at Rs 14,990, it is just the gadget to turn your house into the most happening dig in town. At just 5 cm, it is also one of the slimmest DVD players in India.

In order to view digital photos on TV in a JPEG format, Philips has a Picture CD Feature. The DVD 733K is also armed with a Smart Picture feature for the convenience of ideal and personal settings.

The Digital Zoom Advanced high resolution for extreme close ups gives a better picture quality. Philips nevertheless also has base level products like the 625K for Rs 7,000.

Giving Philips super slim a close fight is the DV 942K from LG. Priced at Rs 14,990, it is 4.3 cm thick and has the usual features including high speed scanning, digital noise reduction and karaoke.

In the same league, Sony's one disc DVD player DVP-NS730, priced at Rs 13,490 is loaded with features that include component video output, versatile scan and video CD noise reduction.

It also has a video equaliser, which allows users to adjust the video output to suit their requirements. Users can manually adjust picture brightness, colour and hue of the DVD to suit their requirements.

And at the higher end are Panasonic's RV45 (Rs 25,000) and Onkyo's DVS5556 (Rs 26,900). Panasonic's RV45 comes with features like digital cinema mode for theatre-like picture and sound reproduction.

But the top of the line fashion statements would include products like the Panasonic LV75, which apart from the usual high-end functions has visual controls like auto reverse and zoom-in.

Priced at a steep Rs 86,990, it is super-thin and light weight and comes with an advanced surround 7 inch widescreen LCD, headphones and 5-speed scan for crystal clear scan quality while locating desired locations on a disc, for good picture quality on the move. It has a built-in recharger and multi-voltage AC adapter for use during travel.

So why should one go in for the more expensive DVDs, when a cheaper VCD player is around? The VCD, like the VCR, is fast becoming obsolete. Falling hardware prices globally have ensured that DVDs are the second fastest growing consumer durable in the world, after the cellphone.

"Prices have halved in the last two years across categories," says CETMA (theConsumer Electronics and TV Manufacturers Aassociation) secretary general Suresh Khanna.

"Globally as more and more people buy the product, scalability for manufacturers will ensure a slashing of prices," he adds. And the advantage of going for high profile brands, as opposed to the grey market operators, who import assembled stuff from China and Taiwan, is the obvious warranty and after sales service guarantee.

While a lot of DVDs used to advertise special features in the past like 'can read all formats', the ability has come to be accepted as a de-facto standard today.

So, a DVD will be able to read and play the current crop of VCDs, and enhance the viewing experience with features such as noise reduction which reduces video distortions on VCDs.

And the DVD player readies the viewer for the surround sound experience and clearer pictures which will be available far more economically, once software manufacturing gets even bigger.

And instead of witnessing frames pixelating (cracking up), the Indian viewer can sit back and enjoy un-cut versions of epics such as Lord of the Rings with popcorn and home comfort.

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