LaserDisc (LD)

The LaserDisc, or LD, is the industry-wide term for consumer laser video, though it is occasionally referred to as LaserVision or Compact Disc Video.

LD was first demonstrated by Philips and MCA in 1972, and has been on the market since 1978, or about as long as VCR and six years longer than CD. There are more than 1 million players in home use in the U.S. (compared to 85 million VCRs), and more than 4 million in Japan (10 percent of households there). The U.S. installed base, at a time increasing at more than 15,000 units per month, is now steadily declining as DVDs become the prevailing medium of home video.

LD presentations feature a bright and detailed picture, CD-quality sound, and more accessible scene selection than its VHS predecessor. They offer higher resolution, less noise, and fewer time-base errors than other analog home video systems.

LaserDiscs, like CDs, are a non-contact medium during play. As a result, there should be no wear in normal use, even if one freezes a single frame on screen for hours. The theoretical shelf life of an LD that is "properly manufactured" and properly stored is the same as for CD -- essentially unknown, and possibly longer than the photographic negatives/prints from which the disc was made. However, in practice, many LaserDiscs have been known to suffer from Disc rot, a process in which the glues loses its hold and the reflective layer seperates from the plastic. Regardless, its shelf-life far outlasts that of most magnetic tapes. LDs do not suffer from print-thru, binder breakdown, base stretch, physical abrasion wear, or signal loss that is common in VHS format.

Once popular with movie buffs in America, LDs were slightly more prevalent in Japan, but were particularly common with Japanese Anime fans. Almost all animation in Japan ended up on a laser disc, and VHS tapes were (and are), in some cases, actually less popular. LDs can have two separate sound tracks, and anime LDs frequently included both the English dubbed and Japanese soundtracks, with subtitles available through closed captions. Due to the massive popularity of DVDs (and their relative advantages), LDs are very quickly dissappearing from the American video scene--no new anime is currently being released on LD in America. DVDs have not taken off in Japan with quite as much vigor as in the States, but while LDs maintain a presence, DVDs are gaining ground rapidly.

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