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What is DVD?

DVD is the new generation of optical disc storage technology. DVD is essentially a bigger, faster CD that can hold cinema-like video, better-than-CD audio, still photos, and computer data. DVD aims to encompass home entertainment, computers, and business information with a single digital format. It has replaced laserdisc, is well on the way to replacing videotape and video game cartridges, and could eventually replace audio CD and CD-ROM. DVD has widespread support from all major electronics companies, all major computer hardware companies, and all major movie and music studios. With this unprecedented support, DVD became the most successful consumer electronics product of all time in less than three years of its introduction. In 2003, six years after introduction, there were over 250 million DVD playback devices worldwide, counting DVD players, DVD PCs, and DVD game consoles. This was more than half the numbers of VCRs, setting DVD up to become the new standard for video publishing.

It's important to understand the difference between the physical formats (such as DVD-ROM and DVD-R) and the application formats (such as DVD-Video and DVD-Audio). DVD-ROM is the base format that holds data. DVD-Video (often simply called DVD) defines how video programs such as movies are stored on disc and played in a DVD-Video player or a DVD computer (see 4.1). The difference is similar to that between CD-ROM and Audio CD. DVD-ROM includes recordable variations: DVD-R/RW, DVD-RAM, and DVD+R/RW (see 4.3). The application formats include DVD-Video, DVD-Video Recording (DVD-VR), DVD+RW Video Recording (DVD+VR), DVD-Audio Recording (DVD-AR), DVD Stream Recording (DVD-SR), DVD-Audio (DVD-A), and Super Audio CD (SACD). There are also special application formats for game consoles such as Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox.

What do the letters DVD stand for?

All of the following have been proposed as the words behind the letters DVD.

• Delayed, very delayed (referring to the many late releases of DVD formats)
• Diversified, very diversified (referring to the proliferation of recordable formats and other spinoffs)
• Digital venereal disease (referring to piracy and copying of DVDs)
• Dead, very dead (from naysayers who predicted DVD would never take off)
• Digital video disc (the original meaning proposed by some of DVD's creators)
• Digital versatile disc (a meaning later proposed by some of DVD's creators)
• Nothing

And the official answer is? "Nothing." The original acronym came from "digital video disc." Some members of the DVD Forum tried to express that DVD goes far beyond video by retrofitting the painfully contorted phrase "digital versatile disc," but this has never been officially accepted by the DVD Forum as a whole. The DVD Forum decreed in 1999 that DVD, as an international standard, is simply three letters. After all, how many people ask what VHS stands for? (Guess what, no one agrees on that one either.)

2008 - 04 -14