January 8, 1999 4:35 PM PST

Divx sales picking up

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Circuit City is claiming some early victories for its Divx digital entertainment system, including some key manufacturing partnerships and early sales successes.

Divx is a limited-use version of DVD that allows viewers access to movies for 48 hours

Panasonic DVD-X410
Panasonic DVD-X410
after the initial viewing period. After that, you have to buy the disk if you want to watch it again.

The technology, developed and marketed by Circuit City, has been criticized for muddying an already complicated DVD field, which was marked by an early, contentious standards battle. Additionally, some consumers complain that the format offers no real quality or price advantage--and limited movie titles--when compared to open DVD.

Still, Circuit City says almost 90,000 Divx-enhanced DVD players were sold in the first three months of national availability, with 60,000 sold during December. This compares to approximately 1.2 million DVD players sold in 1998, according to market research firm InfoTech Research.

Thomson announced that it is developing a high-definition version of Divx, which it is demonstrating at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. High-definition Divx from Thomson will be available in 2000, according to the company.

Circuit City also announced that Kenwood has signed on as a manufacturing partner. Kenwood will add Divx functionality to its DVD players by the end of 1999, according to Circuit City.

Kenwood joins Thomson, Panasonic, and Zenith, who are already manufacturing Divx-enhanced DVD players.


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