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Farewell DVDs: You brought us entertainment but you’re now set for the loft!

PUBLISHED: 19:30 23 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:49 24 October 2018

Don't expect to find a DVD player at John Lewis after the current stock has been sold!

Don't expect to find a DVD player at John Lewis after the current stock has been sold!

John Lewis is to stop selling DVD players. The “must have” technology of the first years of the 21st century is now officially redundant – here Paul Geater looks at but what might be next to bite the dust.

The loft - a treasure trove of obsolete technology. Picture: PAUL GEATERThe loft - a treasure trove of obsolete technology. Picture: PAUL GEATER

When they first came out DVDs were trumpeted as THE revolution in entertainment.

Sound and pictures were so much better than you could get on a video cassette. It was like the difference between an old audio cassette and a CD. And this was a technology that would last.

Yeah, sure. It became a technology that would remain “cutting edge” for less than a decade before HD DVD and BluRay came along to slug it out to take over the mantle.

Those of us old enough to remember the video wars of the early 1980s (VHS-vs-BetaMax-vs-V2000) were delighted when DVDs came along – there was only one format you had to worry about.

John Lewis will no longer be selling DVD players. Picture: JOHN LEWISJohn Lewis will no longer be selling DVD players. Picture: JOHN LEWIS

The problem with them was, in the early days, you could only buy pre-recorded DVDs. You couldn’t tape programmes to watch later as you could with VCRs – so many people opted to buy machines that had both DVD and video slots.

Then the recordable DVD came along and this was, frankly, the most incredible phaff. You had to record something on a disc (make sure you got the right kind of disc, some could be used many times – others could only be recorded on once) and then you had to format it, re-format it and even then you’d probably find that you’d pressed the wrong button so it became unwatchable.

But then technology took the great leap forward. Hard disc recorders came along in the shape of the Sky Plus box. You could record a programme with a single press of the button. You didn’t have to format anything. You could even start to watch the beginning of a programme before the end had been recorded. HALLELUJAH!

But DVDs survived for films and box set TV shows – and had their lives extended as a new format war was threatened between HD DVD and BluRay. This time Sony (which had lost the Betamax war) was victorious with its BluRay system.

Remember when the VCR was the most modern accessory in the home?Remember when the VCR was the most modern accessory in the home?

Like many people we phased out the DVD players in our home as we got a new HD-ready television and then another for the kitchen. After a while we bought BluRay players and any new films we now buy physical copies of are the new HD format.

But how long will they last? Increasingly we’re buying or renting films from services like Amazon Prime or Netflix. You don’t have physical disc that you have to store somewhere.

I’ve still got the box set of the West Wing on DVD. I’m never going to get rid of it – after all you can play these discs on a BluRay player. But will I ever sit down to watch the activities of Josiah Bartlet’s administration again? I’m not sure.

I suspect in years to come we’ll all rely on these streaming services.

Which leaves us with the question, how long will the BluRay player survive? And will it outlast department stores like John Lewis which have stopped selling DVDs?

And apparently while DVDs no longer sell at John Lewis, they have noticed an increase in the demand for 70-inch televisions. 70-INCH televisions? That’s five feet, ten inches of TV screen. Who on earth has a living room large enough to house that?

What else have we stopped using?

Alarm clocks: Apparently these days we just use our phones or computer systems like Alexa to wake us up in the mornings.

Teasmades: Does anyone still have one of these strange contraptions which woke you up, turned on the light and made you a cup of tea in the morning?

Trouser press: You used to find these in hotel rooms, but did anyone ever have one in their home?

Games consoles: If you thought DVDs had a short shelf-life just think about the Playstation One, Playstation Two, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Gamecube, and Nintendo Wii systems. How many of them are languishing in your loft?

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