Product to hit market in February

TOKYO — Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said Thursday it will enter the portable digital videodisc (DVD) market in February with the world’s smallest DVD player.

Matsushita’s first offering, the DVD L10, weighs in at 32.5 ounces and is 6.4 inches long and 1.72 inches thick. The player has a 5.8-inch LCD screen and will have a retail price of 150,000 yen ($1,127).

Matsushita will bring its new portable DVD players to the U.S. in a few months, and they will sell for $1,300.

The Japanese electronics firm plans to offer a bit larger portable DVD player in March that will sell for 79,800 yen ($600). Rival Toshiba Corp. launched the world’s first compact digital videodisc (DVD) player in the Japanese market in November.

Toshiba put two players on the market, both priced at 75,000 yen ($564).

The more compact model weighs 2.65 pounds and the other model weighs 7 pounds. Matsushita did not release any sales target for its new portable DVD players but did say it was hoping to capture about 30% of the overall DVD market.

Sales of DVD players, billed as a replacement for VCRs, have been sluggish since they hit electronics stores in 1996. DVDs promise to be a major consumer item for electronics companies. Japanese industry estimates say that by 2000 the global market for DVDs should be about $25.6 billion.

Matsushita and Toshiba have teamed up with Japan’s largest video rental chain, Culture Convenience Club, to create Japan’s first nationwide digital video-disc (DVD) rental market. The first DVD rentals started at two Culture Convenience stores on Dec. 19 and will expand nationwide to the chain’s 940 stores by the spring of 1998.

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