back to article Pioneer calls a halt to LaserDisc hardware production

Pioneer is to stop making LaserDisc players. Yes - amazingly, perhaps - it's still punching them out, and will produce 3000 more before calling it quits. Despite the rise of DVD in the late 1990s, the emergence more recently of Blu-ray Disc and the fact that no new LaserDisc titles have been released in the US since 2000 and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    4 sale laser disk player

    and Hillman Hunter.

    Must sell, upgrading to the Ford Cortina!

  2. Terry

    Ho Hum

    The only vaguely interesting thing this raises is the question: What's the "minimum storage" on an optical disk? I suspect that's the warranty period of the players they've yet to sell, say maybe a year(ish). I doubt it is the 10 (20? 50? 100?) years one could expect the disks to survive. Actually, I didn't know LDs were analog. This rather explains why they were so damn big. I had assumed it was just poor compression technology, but I never cared enough to research. But here El Reg brings this fascinatingly useless information to my cranium! My point being that if this isn't digital data, then "life of the disk" means something a bit different... You could probably get some significant amount of the original content off the disk for a VERY long time indeed! I wonder if Pioneer really means they'll keep spares on hand for 500 years? Actually I don't really wonder as I suspect I already know the answer. And I believe it to be 90 days past end of new product sales. For sake of argument call it all done and gone by next Christmas.

    Well these comments are certainly more time, effort, and Reg disk space than any of this deserves. I think I'll go read something else now.

  3. Steve

    BBC Micro Laser Disks

    Now we had one of these at school if mem serves me correct it was called the "Doomsday" Machine. Was well impressed with it back in 1989.

  4. Mike Richards Silver badge

    ' LaserDiscs didn't suffer picture degradation over time as VHS does.'

    Oh yes they did, it was called laser rot and it was caused by improper sealing of the disk allowing oxygen to react with the aluminium layer.

    And it could happen fast. My LD of 'Contact' became unplayable in only a couple of years.

    But the image quality of a good LD was something to behold when the only alternative was VHS.

  5. Bad Beaver

    Farewell, my friend :´(

    But what am I saying, my player is going strong and my collection is not going away. Nothing like spinning up a big, shiny disc. LaserDisc stays the videophile's Vinyl.

  6. Haku


    I thought they stopped making LD players many years ago! I picked up a 2nd hand Pioneer LD player a few years ago to get some titles that haven't been released on DVD, and subsequently a lot of the LD's I bought are now on DVD...

    Side note, can someone please give the webmaster a dead leg for using a 4x4 pixel sized tiled background? it makes scrolling pages on juddery/slow & causes an unnecesary 100% CPU usage, 99% of the background is obscured by the article anyway! please make the tiled image 80x80 or larger

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Yea, right

    "Fans argue the picture's better than DVD, because there are no data-compression artefacts." Even if one did not know about Nyquist, all one needs to know about this claim is that the analog put on the Laserdisk is the DAC output of a digital master.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So when's a member of the DSGi group going to announce they're no longer stocking laserdiscs, in hope of another little bit of free publicity?

  9. Matt

    Goodbye then to...

    ...the originals of the BBC Domesday Project, which ran off LaserDiscs. And all those old LaserDisc games like Dragon's Lair and Mad Dog McCree. When these players break down, as they inevitably will, there will be nothing to replace them. At least these have been saved from obscurity by emulation and the Internet, but it's the end of an era nonetheless.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DVD comparison

    "But they couldn't record and so never achieved the widespread use that VHS won. In turn, that prevented prices falling to match tapes and players."

    Wasn't that the same for DVD - i.e. when launched, it could not record and hence was hard to compete with VHS. In fact, a bit like Blu-Ray - you're paying for better resolution compared with DVD, not new features.

  11. Jess
    Paris Hilton

    @ AC Re: Yea right

    What has whether the master was digital got to do with data compression? (You be pretty dumb to use lossy datacompression on a master.)

  12. Paul McConkey

    @ Matt & Steve

    The Domesday project used a modified Philips player and stored digital data as well as AV data. Search Google to easily find more info on the BBC Domesday Project's history and what has happened to it.

    @ Terry "ho hum": Meh.

  13. Ivan Headache

    BBC Domesday

    Is the Domesday Project still available?

    I have material on it and would love to have a copy (just to show my grandchildren of course).

  14. Tim

    Domesday Project

    Apparently the Domesday Project wasn't on LaserDiscs, but Philips Laservision; far more info about it here.

    On a more interesting note, I was always of the impression that VHS won the battle from LaserDisc due not only to it's ability to be used to record things but also due to the availability of Pr0n on VHS. Does anyone have any evidence to the contrary; i.e. a vintage LaserDisc grumbleflick?


  15. Martin Lyne


    The spare parts they'd require to satisfy 100 years of maintenance? Probably about 4 machines worth. Seriously, how many maintenance requests do Pioneer get for these things?

    I've not seen a laser disk on sale in recent memory..

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Reason for failure

    Wasn't it more that Laserdisc writers weren't allowed to distribute porn and other such stuff on it- i.e. it was supposed to be family friendly?

    I mean that's what kills most platforms- does anyone seriously think that the Internet would be as big (or e-commerce as widespread) without years of nekkidness?

  17. Steve

    Why support a format that can be easily copied

    Among other reasons, LD was never really embraced by studios because the discs could not be copy protected. As soon as DVD came out which could be copy protected LD was dropped.

    People also did not like flipping discs in the middle of a movie or changing disc if the movie was over 2 hours.

    I still have my old LD player and the original Star Wars disc where Han shoots first.

  18. James Pickett

    All your players..

    "are support the singalong technology"

    Is the author Nigerian..?

  19. druck Silver badge

    Nurses, trains and tunnels

    My school wasn't involved in the Doomsday project, so I didn't get to see the BBC and Laser Disc player until they started turning up second hand years later.

    However, I first used a Laser Disc player in a university project back in the late 80s to create an interactive training system for nurses. The idea was they would answer on screen questions, and be shown video clips of the right and wrong way to do things, such transferring a patient from a stretcher or how to make hospital corners on a bed.

    We had a lovely system to develop on, it had a full 768x576 PAL resolution video overlay with 4MB of video memory, 24bit colour and 8bit alpha channel transparency (compared the 4 colour CGA graphics of a typical PC at the time). The laser disc of video clips hadn't been shot at that point, and the only disc we had was of the history of steam trains. The video was fantastic quality I got a bit board after a while of the endless clips of trains going in and out of tunnels that we used to test the system!

  20. easyk

    @ac yeah right.

    I think they are referring to the lossy mpeg 2* compression used on DVDs. Presumably the master is digitized but uncompressed ( or losslessly ). They can get a higher SNR from an uncompressed digital source after you consider the bandwidth of the disk and reading hardware. The claim is total balls** without some analysis that I am not willing to do.

    * I think thats right; not going to look it up though.

    ** I wanted to use the brittish version of this word but I wasn't sure of the spelling.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    ah..laserdisc, takes me back to me youth working in corporate R&D for pioneer

    interesting that laserdisc was multistandard with no zoning... how civilized

    laserdisc not only improved the picture over VHS but massively improved the sound quality

    listening to some of the george lucas movies(last crusade for example) through a THX standard system totally changed the expectations for home AV performance

    size of the discs i think was the thing at really killed it.

    plus the tight control of the production which meant boot legs were generally unavailable

    no $2 dodgy copies of laser discs unlike DVD and VCD

    btw smut was available .... the japanese used to have it smuggled in from pioneer usa..and they were like unto gold plated rocking horse manure in their rarity.

    can we have a painful nostalgia icon... awhite bearded old man time with a scythe perhaps

  22. andy rock

    at least...

    ...they had *full* PCM audio, even if other things were...well, crap.

  23. Bod

    Reason for failure 2

    Stupidly large disc !

    DVD won the public over mostly in form factor. Small. Like a CD. Fits nicely on the shelves.

    Wins over the female audience in that way and that is the critical factor ;)

    Resolution was very much secondary. Recordability wasn't even that important as people still had VHS to record and they only needed a couple of tapes knocking around for that.

    Blu-ray's appeal to women?...

  24. druck Silver badge
    Dead Vulture


    "Side note, can someone please give the webmaster a dead leg for using a 4x4 pixel sized tiled background?"

    Ah that's why this part of the register is like wading through treacle on my EEE PC, where as the rest of it is nice and fast.

  25. Shane Sturrock
    Thumb Up

    Still got and use my LD player

    My Pioneer DVL-919E still has pride of place in my AV system. I have a few hundred LDs that I bought back in 1992 or so when I got my first widescreen telly and the quality of VHS releases on it was impossibly dire. My first LD, T2 SE (18 cert while the VHS version was a 15) still plays perfectly. I've only had a couple of LDs die from rot but I've also lost DVDs the same way.

    Picture quality wise, LD is a little softer than a good DVD but the best LD can be better than the worst DVD. DVD does have the edge though these days. The main issue with LD was the quality of the masters at the time. Generally, they were analogue telecine transfers and you got a fair bit of interlace twitter and jaggies. The THX Star Wars box set is a good example of what LD can achieve as it still looks excellent today.

    On a regular flat panel TV, LD is still very decent and few would be able to tell the difference between it and DVD. On my HD projector, it does look pretty soft and the chroma noise can be a problem some times (always the achilles heel of LD) but you quickly forget and just enjoy the film. LD pioneered the commentary track and extras, along with full widescreen presentation. Eventually it would be possible to get LDs with Dolby Digital and even DTS sound. I still have my DTS edition of Jurassic Park on LD and it is amazing. As for grumble, yes it was available and the picture quality was very high.

    Side changes were an issue but we used to have friends come around for films and we would stop for refreshments at the side change. Side flipping players became the norm late on and could stop a disc, switch the laser to the other side and spin the disc back up in less than 10 seconds which is pretty impressive given their bulk.

    In Japan, they even had anamorphic (Squeeze) LDs and went as far as putting Hi-Vision MUSE format discs out along with players which could also play standard NTSC LDs. For a format that started in 1972 and was brought to market as LaserVision in the late 70's it has done remarkably well.

  26. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Paris Hilton

    early laserdisc dangers

    The first LaserDisc players has a gas laser, and have very dangerous high voltage driving.

    It's not that the voltage is high, but that there is substantial current.

    Paris, cause.... well... cause.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    BBC Symbols

    The BBC1 globe (orangey one) and the original BBC2 animating 2s all orignally were played from LD for many years - we liked them as they had instant start, fast cue and unlike VT and could be played multiple times without degredation (up to a point)

    It's all done on video server now of course...

    [The gold on blue globe was generated electronically]

    Right, off now to de-geek.

  28. harry potter



    Farewell, my love. It was beautiful whilst it lasted :)

    LD excelled with DLP Projection onto a large screen - much less picture compression and not marred by LCD chicken wire mesh or macro-blocking.

    DVD blown up onto a large screen just revealed MPEGiness - blocks, smears, and slight staggered vision on panning shots. LD may not have been as sharp looking as DVD but, is far more fluid, less distracting and thus, more engaging to just sit back watch the movie.

    It's a shame LD never took off, whatever the reason(s).

    Recordability, Copy Protection, Porn availability, Cost, the annoying flip over point halfway through a movie or, getting up to insert disc 3 and 4. Ahh, memories!

    According to Pioneer's market research, women supposedly played a small role in this formats' success/demise, also.

    Ironically, it appears that size DOES matter.

    On this occassion, apparently, women preferred a 5 incher over a 12 incher.

    There's no pleasing some people!

    Well, with size in mind IBM have something up their sleeve for the future.... Photonics.

    The world's fastest optical transceiver, which can send and receive data at 160 gigabits per second, eight times faster than currently available optical components. And, it measures 3.25 mm by 5.25 mm

    Before that arrives, Blu-Ray's natural successor looks likely to be the HVD (Holographic Versatile Disc). A 1TB (one terabyte or 1000 giabyte) disc. It can hold the equivalent 200 standard DVDs, with a transfer speed of over 1 gigabit per second, or 40 times faster than a DVD. By comparison, single layer Blu-ray discs hold about 25GB of data while Dual-Layer discs can contain 50GB. Movies can already be captured at 2160p and, the HVD would have no problem containing and outputting this size & resolution. However, this probably won't kick in until 2019. Blu-Ray, 1080p plasma, lcd, displays, & video cameras have at least 10 years shelf life left, before we all start selling and re-buying our favourite films/tv progs.

    I feel sorry for the actors and make-up artists. Who wants to be seen, close-up, in 2160p besides a shark?!

    Laserdisc, i love you. I shall remember you fondly. When I'm very old, I will 'wow' my grandchildren (if i have any) with my original (no-cgi edition) of Star Wars box set.

    I feel old just thinking about it!

  29. Rob Brady

    LD outlived the VCR! Who'd have thought?!

    Wow, Laserdisc outlived VCRs...

    LD is STILL, and by the looks of things will be forever, the best quality home viewable version of Star Wars before Lucas "South Parked" it.

    Han Shoots first (In the new versions the whole meaning of Solo's redemption from nasty guy to good is lost), and ILM models complete with go motion animation has a character to it that the CGI stuff done on for the "Special Editions" sorely lacks.

    No I don't have a projector and deteriorating print of it, I'm not quite THAT nuts.

    I suppose that makes me a luddite. I buy my music on Vinyl too. Smaller selection available, but no Paris Hilton songs!

    As a side note, is anyone else disturbed by the lack of any LEGAL mass market method of recording and keeping lots of TV these days? No VCRs, TiVO and other hardware DVRs have long term archiving & storage issues, and the TV Company DVRs are not even work joking about..

    Sure there are several computer based PVRs free of DRM, but ithey take a Reg Reader to configure and maintain. Even then the results are mixed as everyone is doing their best to lock them out of being able to record anything worthwhile.

    No, I doing want to pay per view, no I don't want to have a subscription to be able to watch movies years after some anonymous committee has decided that they don't want to bother with them, and I want to be able to preserve (Like for years) random TV shows that will never get a release.

    It's taken a while but it's close to the point where the "Betamax Ruling" has become irrelevant.

  30. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    @Bad Beaver

    "LaserDisc stays the videophile's Vinyl" absolutely. Just like vinyl, the performance is markedly worse than the digital equivalent (OK, LD is PARTIALLY digital) yet a strange band of enthusiasts still claim otherwise. And, just like vinyl, handling the media is a delicate, if joyous, operation. Anyone who's never seen a 12" optical disc is missing out.

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