Kid Vid and the Mini-DVD
The 3-inch mini DVD, of course, is not a totally new concept. Several manufacturers, most notably Panasonic and Sony, have made camcorders that record on mini DVD-RAM or mini DVD-R discs for a couple of years. Once recorded, the small disc can be viewed using a standard DVD player or by using the camcorder itself as the playback device. It's an adult kind of thing. (But not necessarily for adult videos...)
The prerecorded variation, however, is aimed squarely at "tweens" (ages 9 - 12) and younger kids. Inexpensive small hand-held players and a mix of movies, TV shows, cartoons, and etc. appealing to the tween demographic have studios like Warner Home Video (WHV) salivating over the prospect of yet another way to repackage content and create additional revenue. (Other studios have announced support - but not titles yet - for the mini format.)
Prerecorded Mini-DVDs offer the same picture quality as standard DVDs along with Dolby Digital audio. WHV began introducing Mini-DVD titles in November, 2004 and expects to launch Mini-DVD nationally in March of 2005. To date, there are at least 28 titles available including movie releases such as A Cinderella Story, Kangaroo Jack, Free Willy, Dennis the Menace, and Scooby-Doo 2. TV series and animation titles include Gilligan's Island, The Flintstones, Justice League: Starcrossed the Movie, and the ever-popular Scooby-Doo Meets Batman. WHV's MSRPs for Mini-DVD titles range from $9.98 to $24.98. This spring we should see many additional titles including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Miss Congeniality, and Clifford's Really Big Movie.
Discs need players, of course. The only player available at the moment is Cyberhome's CH-MDP 2500. Small and light enough to fit in the palm of a young hand (4" wide, 4.4" deep, 1.2" high and weighing only 9.64 ounces), the CH-MDP 2500 includes a 2.5-inch 4:3 LCD screen, built-in speakers, a headphone jack, and an AC adapter. Cyberhome claims the rechargeable batteries provide around 3 hours of playing time. MSRP is $120.
Samsung will soon enter the Mini-DVD player arena with the DVD Jr. Like the Cyberhome model, Samsung's version will feature a 2.5-inch 4:3 LCD screen. In addition to its 3-inch disc capabilities, the DVD Jr supports playback of MP3 music files and JPEG images. Included Ni-MH batteries provide 2.5 hours of playback time, and the player comes with an adapter plus a DC power jack. There's also a built-in headphone jack. MSRP is $149.99. Look for "an aggressive merchandising campaign, including kiosks and counter displays that let consumers test out the device."
Both the Cyberhome and Samsung players come with one free Mini-DVD title and a two-disc mail-in offer.
Thank goodness for the new players. It's one more opportunity to buy yet another copy of the same movie. (And one more way parents can avoid interacting with their offspring...)