(1999 - 2002)
Announced in 1994 in prevision of the
future HD cable broadcasts, D-VHS was
meant as a Bistream (the D stands for
DATA) system of recording allowing for simultaneous recordings of
different channels. It didn't really convince, especially since
a unified European HD standard was then a matter of distant science-fiction
- it still is...
When all plans for HD broadcasts were postponed due to the limited
success of cable TV (the excellent analog D2-Mac standard in France) and the effects of an enduring economical crisis,
D-VHS was forgotten almost at the same time it was announced.
The decks finally hit the streets in 1997/98,
much too late as DVD was already only one year away... Too expensive
they were, too,, especially for a format that seemed rather unsure
- even for us lads who were spending a heck of a lot on imported
US Laserdiscs to have quality video replay. And, from the moment
DVD was announced, all tape-based formats seemed truly old-fashioned.
Now that DVD recorders are common and HD-DVD just around the corner,
who'd care to fiddle with tapes I ask you? Image quality-wise, HD-DVD
recorders will be the answer to non-compromising quality... whenever
the giants will settle on a standard. D-VHS had it but it was an
old standard :)
Anyway - a truly bad marketing campaign didn't help and one of the three decks presented (Philips VR-20D)
was a rebadge of the initial JVC (HM-DR10000).
Said Philips made six mechanical versions (!), the first of which used a completely unadapted and dead-on-arrival Philips TurboDrive, the later ones oscillating between crappy Funai or crappy JVC.
Be careful when using the fast-forward function : always stop and rewind a little after a fast-forward cycle otherwise your precious D-tape is chewed.
Philips being a hugely important manufacturer in Europe, all this sounded
quite fishy to many of us. To bury the format even more, the specific
D-VHS tapes were almost unavailable, horribly expensive and the
DV plug was INput only - that was the main blow.
a result, very few decks were sold and most of the stocks wound
up being heavily discounted. Philips quickly became totally mute
regarding their "own" deck. Too bad - D-VHS is a great
format and far superior to any DVD recorders indeed - with
a data-rate in excess of 14Mb/s
it isn't difficult !
Just as for the high-def' version of Laserdisc (MUSE), Japan saw
quite a few D-VHS recorders and the market there was more "alive"
or less dead if you like.
But given the lack of support, the virtual
absence of a library of pre-recorded titles and the utter unobtainium
of D-VHS tapes, the very dubious quality of the transport mechanism
used in the Philips, the long-term reliability of the D tapes is
in very serious doubt.
Given the absence of any European HD format,
not even D-VHS' D-Theater high-definition
version will ever save this excellent format from oblivion. Bye
(ps : this page was written in 2004)