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Pioneer to launch DVD Audio players without waiting for copy protection

December 15, 1999
Web posted at: 9:06 a.m. EST (1406 GMT)

by Martyn Williams


TOKYO (IDG) -- Pioneer says it won't be following the lead of several other Japanese electronics makers and delaying the launch of its DVD Audio products until a new copy protection system is developed.

The company plans to launch its DVD (digital versatile disk) products that feature DVD Audio support on schedule later this month and offer free upgrades when the new copy protection system is finalized next year.

Two weeks ago, Matsushita Electric Industrial, better known by its Panasonic brand name, announced it would delay the launch of its DVD Audio products until mid 2000 while a new copy protection system is developed. DVD Audio was to employ CSS2, a new version of the CSS (content scrambling system) used on DVD Video although the cracking of the system in November forced the format's backers to change their plans.

Gadget fever

Announcing its decision, the Tokyo-based electronics maker said it fears that withholding products at this stage, just weeks before their planned launch, will not be beneficial to the DVD Audio industry.

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Pioneer will launch two planned products -- combined DVD Video and DVD Audio players -- as scheduled in late December and offer customers a free upgrade when the new system is finalized. This could take six months or more, said the company.

The machines the company will introduce are high-end models designed to appeal to serious users rather than the consumer market and come with price tags to match. The DV-S10A will cost 200,000 yen (US$1,950) and the DV-AX10 will cost 500,000 yen. Pioneer plans to produce 2,000 and 500 units per month respectively.

Until the new DVD Audio copy protection system is developed and standardized, the amount of DVD Audio software available is likely to be very small but Pioneer hopes that, with its offer of a free upgrade, it will be able to attract customers that have been looking for a combined video/audio player.

Pioneer's DV-AX10 model also comes with the ability to play SuperAudio CD discs - a format developed by Sony and already commercialized that is battling with DVD Audio for the place as the successor to compact disks.

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