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Wednesday, January 30 12:01 AM EST

Microsoft, Panasonic Partner
On New DVD Player

By Brian Briggs

Redmond, WA - The DVD-RV31M, a DVD player created in a partnership of Microsoft and Panasonic, is the first DVD player to incorporate Microsoft's MDVD video encryption standard. The discs are encoded in the MDVD standard, a format recently adopted by all major Hollywood studios, resulting in lower purchase prices on DVDs for consumers. The DVDs range from $2-$7 on initial purchase but require payment during viewing. Each DVD will play for a time period set by the content creator but will pause to request payment, which is deposited in the convenient coin slot mounted atop of the player.

A friendly Microsoft collection agent will drop by monthly to empty the coin box and ensure there has been no unauthorized viewing. He may also take a peek at your hard drive as well just in case. Microsoft then divides the payments between the content creator and Panasonic keeping only a small collection fee for itself.

The first DVDs available in the MDVD format are from adult DVD purveyor Vivid Video. Such titles include Untamed Vixens and Where the Boys Aren't 7. Discs from Vivid use a variable payment scale with key scenes requiring larger payments, giving new meaning to the term "money shot".

"The adult entertainment industry has long been an innovator in the film industry and once again it is an early adopter of new technology," said Matthew Debow from Microsoft's Home Entertainment division.

Many initial purchasers are pleased with the new format. "I love this new system. It reminds me of when I was a kid and pumping quarters into Burger Time and Tempest. The fond memories really enhance my DVD viewing pleasure," related Darren Nakashima.

Not all consumers were thrilled with the new system. One unhappy purchaser said, "I thought this system would be great. Now I wouldn't have to pay for watching credits or previews on the discs but it wouldn't let me skip. I couldn't believe I had to pay $1.25 to watch the preview for Black Knight."

Other features include BMP and WMF playback for displaying graphic files previously only available on your computer monitor, directly to your TV. An optional credit card reader will be available late in 2002 which will require MSN internet service.

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