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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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The end of spinny-roundy media

10 June 2019

Last week, the DVD player in the bedroom died.

Okay, it was only a $29 unit from The Warehouse but I was surprised that it didn't last any longer than a year or so because the previous two players had kept going for 3-4 years each. But hey, can't grizzle too much for a device that I bought on special for under $30.

When I say it lasted a year, I have to admit that it was starting to make some pretty loud vibrating noises after just a few months of use and it seems that the motor has spat the dummy. On tear-down it's obvious that this was a super-budget build worth every one of those 29 dollars -- but only just.

So I figured, hey, I'll just buy another one and get at least another year's use.

Nope.

The only DVD player that The Warehouse now has on its books is a much more expensive "brand-name" unit that costs a stingy $70 or so.

Bugger!

So I went online... but to no avail.

After a bit of searching I realised that I was going to have to fork out $70 for a DVD player or nearly twice that for a BluRay player. Owch!

It's starting to look as if brown-goods retailers think nobody watches DVDs any more and that streaming services have simply taken over.

Not true! We have a huge library of disks which, without a player, would be rendered useless to us.

Sure, I could spend countless hours ripping all these titles to a hard-drive -- but life's far too short for that. I just want to throw a disk into a player and press play.

Here's the irony for you... whilst shopping around I noticed that there are quite a few "record players" -- you know, vinyl disks -- on sale these days. It's actually much easier to find a player for your 1950's records than for that DVD you bought just a few short years ago.

WTF???

Anyway, I ended up buying a Laser-brand DVD player from Mighty Ape for the princely sum of $70 and it was delivered next day. Previously I'd had a "Laser" brand BluRay player that performed pretty well (although it also lasted less than two years) so I was modestly happy that this wasn't a bad choice -- especially since our local Warehouse didn't even have the player they stock and there was a longer delay in using their online service.

When my $70 player arrived on Saturday morning I must say I was rather disappointed.

On opening the box, I found that this unit, which cost over twice the price of the Transonic I'd bought a year or so ago, was effectively the exact same thing -- albeit with the addition of an HDMI output as well as the composite my old DVD player had.

Yeah, it's just a cheap-arsed $29 player that has been rebranded and is being sold for more than twice the price.

How long will *this* one last?

I expect it'll be lucky to make 12 months -- and if it doesn't, what will be my options (if any) when I claim under warranty? If things keep going the way they are, I suspect I'll just get a refund because there will be no DVD players on the market at all.

So... with this in mind, I'm about to start exploring the option of knocking up my own DVD player, based around a SBC such as the Raspberry Pi and a computer DVD drive. This will allow me to access my disc collection and I can probably even use a tablet or smart-phone as the remote control.

Given that I have a heap of old computer DVD drives laying around (who doesn't?), this could be a much better long-term solution.

What do readers think?

Short of wasting a lifetime ripping everything to an HD, is this the best option?

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