1988 vs. 2008: A Tech Retrospective

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Video Players

The Pioneer CLD-1010 Laserdisc Player.
1988: Pioneer CLD-1010 Laserdisc Player

  • Price: $1427 ($2278 adjusted for inflation)
  • Resolution: 420-line
  • Output: composite
  • Media supported: Laserdisc, CD-audio, CD-video

The Panasonic DMP-BD30K Blu-ray Disc Player.
2008: Panasonic DMP-BD30K Blu-ray Disc Player

  • Price: $500
  • Resolution: 1080-line
  • Output: HDMI
  • Media supported: Blu-ray 1.1, DVD (with upscaling), CD

Laserdisc was the Blu-ray of 1988--a high-quality alternative to the then-dominant video media (VHS tape then; regular DVD now). And like Blu-ray gear today, Laserdisc players commanded a premium price.

The Pioneer CLD-1010 doubled as a CD-audio player; and later models could play DVDs, too. But Laserdisc never gained widespread support from equipment makers and movie studies, and as a result its household penetration in the United States peaked at just 2 percent.

The last movie on Laserdisc came out in 2000. The format survived that long thanks to a cult following among enthusiasts who preferred its smooth, filmlike analog quality to the sometimes blocky and banded DVD format. In fact, astonishingly enough, Pioneer still makes combination Laserdisc/DVD players for hardcore fans of the Laserdisc format.

With Blu-ray's high-definition video, however, the argument is over. Significantly, Blu-ray already enjoys more industry support than Laserdisc ever did. And with buyers flocking to big HDTVs, which are hungry for 1080p content, Blu-ray seems assured of a secure future--at least until Super Hi-Vision comes along.

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