Why the LaserDisc Could Not Survive

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Although LaserDiscs boasted some impressive technology back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, there are obvious drawbacks when compared to today’s technology in DVDs. Some of these disadvantages include:

▪           Heavy weight (approximately 0.5 pound)

▪           Prone to damage when handled improperly

▪           Cumbersome

▪           More noise generated when spun due to the increased effort required by players as a result of their large size and weight

▪           High price points

▪           Lack of marketing on the part of manufacturers of LaserDiscs with recording abilities

Playback Duration Limitations of the LaserDisc

Another major drawback of the laserdisc was the fact that users had to flip the disc over in the middle of the film once it reached either 30 minutes (for CAV) or 60 minutes (for CLV). With such time limitations, many motion pictures often fill two or even three discs. Even with more advanced players that can flip the disc automatically, a pause in the movie is still inevitable, which was a huge put-off for users.

Lack of Error Correction

Any minor streak, smear, scratch or dust on a laserdisc would inevitably lead to read-errors, like picture interruptions and other glitches. This is because laserdiscs do not include any form of built-in error correction. In contrast, DVDs are developed with built-in error correction which limits the impact that any dust or scratches have on the signal.

Crosstalk

A problem known as “crosstalk” was also an issue with early laserdiscs. During changes in speed from a player, the optical pickup within the player may read data information from an adjacent track, which caused data between the two tracks to “cross”, and show up on screen distorting the picture. Where rotational speeds vary in players, crosstalk was a major problem.

Inconsistency of Playback Quality With Different LD Players

The quality of the picture varied depending on the type of LD player being used to play the disc. Even on smaller screens or televisions of lower quality were such disparities apparent. Much higher quality LD players were able to provide a much better quality picture, but such players were much more expensive and out of reach for many consumers. In contrast, different DVD players made by different manufacturers make the picture quality virtually indistinguishable from one unit to another.

Improper Manufacturing of LaserDiscs

Many earlier models of laserdiscs were not manufactured properly. For example, a poor-quality adhesive was sometimes used to hold the two sides of the disc together, which contained certain impurities that attacked the aluminum layer of the disc on a chemical level. Such a reaction caused this layer to lose its reflective traits, which would cause a great deal of “speckling” noise and disc skipping.

Marketing and Pricing of the LaserDisc WorldWide

The sky-high prices of laserdiscs and their players played a huge role in laserdisc’s poor popularity in North America. The average North American consumer not only couldn’t afford such prices, they were also confused and essentially uninformed of the superiority of the laserdisc’s technology in that time. Only videophiles and those with an affinity for such technology embraced the laserdisc and its technology.

Laserdisc did experience mild popularity for a limited time period, but the lack of marketing of laserdiscs by their manufacturers to the consumer market hurt worldwide sales. Couple this with the cumbersome size and weight of the disc, the high prices, and the inability to record onto laserdiscs compared with the then-popular VHS cassettes, which combined would inevitably contribute to the demise of the laserdisc.

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