RIP Laserdisc players

Pioneer confirms that it's discontinuing the Laserdisc, as the last players are set to roll off the production lines...

DVDs

The Laserdisc player, for so long mooted as the natural successor to the VHS format, is set to finally end its days, as Pioneer has confirmed that it is to cease production of the hardware.

Originally launched in 1980, Laserdiscs were the first digital movie format to get any kind of acceptance in the mass market, even if they evolved into strictly a niche format. The format often demanded a swapping of discs that wouldn’t be easily tolerated in the far lazier modern day market, and the LP-sized discs look outdated compared to a DVD or Blu-ray.

And yet movie fans in particular have much reason to be grateful to Laserdisc. The format played host to some outstanding special editions of films, with a depth of extra features that put the majority of modern day DVDs to shame. While many of the Laserdisc extras made it across to DVD, not all of them did, leaving them lost in a maze of securing rights that was never resolved. As such, many Laserdiscs have become genuine collectors’ items.

The final Laserdisc players being made by Pioneer are the DVL-919 (DVD/LD compatible player), the CLD-R5 (LD/CD player), the DVK-900 (DVD/LD karaoke system), and the DVL-K88 (DVD/LD compatible karaoke player). Once the firm has completed production of the final 3,000 players on its to-do list, no more will be manufactured, bringing to an end the manufacturing life of an extraordinary technology, that has endured far longer than many people realise.

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Pioneer has confirmed that it will maintain a stock of spares to support existing players, of which there are over 9 million that have been sold. In a statement, Pioneer said that “under the market environment in which new media such as DVD and Blu-ray discs now dominate, it has become difficult for Pioneer to procure the parts required to produce LD players. Consequently Pioneer has been forced to terminate production of its LD products”.

Rest in peace, Laserdisc players. And thanks for the memories…

20 January 2009