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While a far cry
from the old 8mm reel-to-reel setups of decades past, the beloved
black hunk of plastic we call the VHS tape was still a sort of
primitive technology. In fact, it used a kind of film as well in a
similar reel-to-reel fashion; this meant that the tape had to be
rewound following each viewing of whatever recording it housed, a
frustrating source of fees for movie renters 'round the world. While
DVDs are certainly a cut above the other video delivery mediums,
they are not without fault. They are somewhat fragile, though
probably no more so than tapes, whose thin magnetic film is prone to
breaking under even modest stress. So long as DVDs are well
protected they will last much longer than VHS tapes, as the latter
format's quality continually degrades even in near optimal storage
conditions. The average movie watcher certainly benefits from the
way DVDs are read; the laser that decodes the data can skip to
different points within it, making features like immediate scene
selection possible for the first time.
Like older movie storage mediums, blank DVDs can be purchased by
anyone with a little money to spare. This opens up all kinds of
possibilities, such as units that can record from a television or
any other input source. The consumer is afforded the chance, if they
so choose, to make archival or back-up copies of whatever DVDs they
may already have purchased. It can be quite nice to have a spare
because as mentioned before, DVDs are in fact fairly fragile; what
might seem like an insignificant scratch is capable of interrupting
a movie during playback.
There are many more DVD-specific features that are simply not
possible using the previous movie distribution formats. Audio
channels can be switched on the fly while watching a movie, allowing
the viewer to change from the normal movie audio to something like
"director's commentary" or even overdubbed languages! Due to the
increased storage capacity of the DVD, additional content referred
to as "extras" are commonly included in movie releases. This might
include outtakes, "behind the scenes" or other featurettes.
When a home computer is used to write a blank DVD it becomes
possible to add one's home videos, pictures, or other personal media
to it. Using the right software, almost anyone can create a media
presentation. Companies and individuals might use this technology to
create gifts, informational videos, or even marketing messages. The
possibilities are nearly limitless.