Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pioneer to stop LaserDisc player production

Pioneer has announced that it will build 3000 more LaserDisc players before it halts production. Currently 3 models of LaserDisc player are still being built and they are all produced by Pioneer. So this signals the end of an era. Production of LaserDiscs stopped in 2001 and Pioneer had continued building players for people who had large collections of discs.

The current Pioneer DVL-919 is a combo DVD/Laser player that has a $1000 MSRP. It lacks the higher end features that the Pioneer Elite CLD-79 and CLD-99 had. Over the past decade the LaserDisc player hasn't seen any technology improvements or cost reductions. Not surprising consider it's a niche production for a niche collector market.

The LaserDisc format arrived in 1980 and 16.8 million players have been sold. Originally LaserDisc was completely analog for both video and sound. Later digital 44.1kHz PCM audio tracks were added and then DTS and modulated AC3. A couple anamorphic discs were also produced. In Japan there was even a HD version of LaserDisc that preceded our current digital HDTV systems by a decade. So LaserDisc had a lot of firsts. To this day no DVD or Blu-ray player can match the speed and smoothness that a high-end player like the CLD-99 could fast forward, reverse, slowmo, and single frame step. We'll miss you LaserDisc.


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