D-VHS machines also will be able to play standard VHS tapes. The four studios will release films on a digital VHS system created by JVC, whose current D-VHS player has a list price of just under $2,000. The high price and the relatively small number of high-definition televisions likely will make the D-VHS format a niche market for the immediate future. High-definition DVD technology likely is at least five years away, studio executives say.
``You have consumers today who would love to have a high-definition alternative, and we have nothing to offer them,'' said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal home video.
Other studios, worried the new format will confuse consumers as the DVD market continues to explode, have yet to embrace D-VHS.
``As far as we're concerned, D-VHS is not a commercial product,'' said Ben Feingold, Columbia TriStar home entertainment president. ``The enormous success of DVD leads us to believe, both intuitively and practically, that there's a strong preference for a disc-based product.''