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Self-destructing DVDs – Already Extinct?

I read about these DVDs a few weeks ago, but then quickly forgot about them until seeing this article in Time this morning.

The concept is simple enough. You buy these DVDs from airports, travel centers, and Staples across the country. As soon as you open it, you have about 48 hours to watch it before it becomes unreadable by your DVD player.

Here are some technical details from the article:

The DVDs, which were created by the Georgia-based company Flexplay Entertainment, look like regular discs, but they are made with a special glue that is sensitive to oxygen. Once the disc is exposed to air, a chemical reaction causes the glue to darken so the laser in the DVD player can no longer read the disc. Sealed discs can last for about one year. “It’s like DVD on demand,” says Joe Fuller, Flexplay’s executive vice president of marketing. “You can get Flexplay at the store today, but your rental period doesn’t actually start until you’ve opened the sealed package.”

Sounds pretty cool, so what’s the problem then? Well, the price… These DVDs sell for $5 each. So, it costs more than even renting a DVD from Blockbuster, and the same as the 2-per-month Netflix membership.

Of course, we savvy Redbox users can get 5 (or more with promo codes) movies for the same price. So, why would anyone use these?

The company hopes these DVDs will appeal to business travelers who don’t usually rent movies because their busy schedules make it hard to find time to return them. In addition to Staples, which has never offered movie rentals before, the discs will be for sale at Flexplay’s own Web site, Travel Centers of America, Love’s and at about 200 Hudson Group–owned newsstands at airports and travel hubs. “You can pick up a couple of movies and put it in your briefcase,” Fuller says. “And the next time you are stuck at an airport, you can pop it in your DVD player or computer and you can enjoy a movie.”

I do like the idea of buying them, and then having up to a year that you can just leave them in your briefcase or bag before watching them, but I don’t think there are enough users who would need this. Perhaps I underestimate the needs and DVD watching habits of business travelers…

Personally, unless they can get the price down to a more reasonable price (maybe $2.99?), I don’t see how these will ever take off. And, if Redbox can get itself in all of the airports across the country, this idea will be grounded for good.

Of course, if we can just put our DVDs and players in a room where there is no oxygen, then these things will theoretically last a lot longer! In fact, how long will be until some young hacker creates some sort of “wrap” or case that you can stick these things in so they will not “self-destruct” at all?

Now you know what I think – how about you? Will this idea work? Would you ever find yourself in a situation where you would buy one of these?

20 Responses to “Self-destructing DVDs – Already Extinct?”

  1. Visitor [Join Now]
    Peter [visitor]

    I can’t think of a single reason to buy one of these disks. DivX tried something similar and it bombed. This concept was introduced a while ago and vanished for a while. I just don’t see why I’d pay $5 for a movie to self-destruct, possibly even before I get a chance to watch it all the way through. It would be even worse if part of the disk got dark faster than another part and it was right in the middle of the movie or at the end. Hopefully this goes the way of the dodo quickly and people realize that consumers want _less_ DRM and other copy-protect measures, not _more_. It’s past time for companies to move into the 21st century and this is not a move in that direction.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      adrian [visitor]

      Just download the movies onto your pc.
      and no this is NOT immoral or “wrong” in my book.
      just so happens that it’s part of the buyer/consumer
      system which has limits that is destroying our
      way of living on earth….. until others realize we
      gotta move away from identifying ourselves as consumers and buyers( or at least find another environmental friendly ECONOMIC-system),until then, this will be immoral to those, and not to me.
      hence my collection of movies on my pc :)

  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    Bob Rothsenchild [visitor]

    One word. Porn.

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    Daniel [visitor]

    Just what we need more “one time use” throw away garbage to increase the size of landfills even more.

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Trevor [visitor]

    They did something similar a few years back, calling it Divx. They were too expensive (closer to $10, if I remember right) and required a special player. I guess they think that by lowering the price and making it work in any player they’re not making the mistake again?

  5. Visitor [Join Now]
    Denise [visitor]

    I won’t even pay what the airlines charge to rent headphones on the plane to watch an in-flight movie. $5 for something I can only use once? I don’t think so.

  6. Member [Join Now]
    Alan Smithee [8traxrule]

    Since there’s an obvious way of getting around this (most sites don’t like people discussing it, but it involves putting the data onto a disc that doesn’t self-destruct) I’m surprised they’re still trying to get these to catch on. I got the “Noel” disc just as a novelty, first thing I did was make a permanent disc out of it. Search for “Flexplay” on Google Video to see the trailer from the beginning of the disc.

  7. Visitor [Join Now]
    Melissa [visitor]

    You could always laminate the DVD, and Best Buy sells skins to cover the bottoms on of DVDs/CDs to protect them from scratching. That may prolong it for a little while.

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    normad [visitor]

    lamo. Never gonna happen. It’ll tank in no time. The rapidly decreasing popularity of physical mediums, such as DVD, is giving way to increasingly popular digital mediums. DVD’s are on their way out…and I think disposable ones even more so.

  9. Visitor [Join Now]
    CJ [visitor]

    Filling up our landfills with useless pieces of plastic? This is a terrible idea! I would rather see movies downloaded to a flashdrive and then use software to allow two or three viewings before they “expire”.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      Rene [visitor]

      I wonder if the trip back to Blockbuster to return a DVD will cause more harm to the environment than the extra DVD in the landfills. It will probably take a 5 mile trip to the rental store just to return the DVD. With the price of gasoline and its impact on the environment, I feel it is probably better to throw away the DVD. However, I must admit that your idea of a flashdrive alternative sounds very attractive.

      • Visitor [Join Now]
        kevin [visitor]

        Are you serious? You can walk or ride a bike to Blockbuster, but the DVDs in the landfill will never go away. Think about how many DVDs will be filling up the planet in 50 years if this idea caught on.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      CJ [visitor]

      Who said anything about Blockbuster? I would rather download from online! With more and more free wireless access to the internet, there’s even more opportunity to not have to drive, ride, OR walk (though we still need exercise) to the nearest video store if you don’t already have highspeed internet at home.

      • Visitor [Join Now]
        Rene [visitor]

        I agree that video on demand is the best alternative. There is no driving to the store, driving to return de dvd nor late fees. However, I assumed the discussion was for the situation in which this alternative was not available. In that case, I would prefer the alternative of not havig to return to the store just to return the dvd. And yes, walking and bike is better than driving, however, these alternative are not always available.

  10. Member [Join Now]

    The idea would be great for goverment classified documents and maybe gov inter-office crap.once used then history,sounds so much like politics!What do they care what they cost or where they wind up!lol

  11. Visitor [Join Now]
    Jonathan [visitor]

    I remember seeing these “self destructing” DVD’s in 7-11’s and other quick-mart type places a few years ago during the test marketing phase. It’s definitely not a new thing at all. It didn’t take off then, and it will not take off now, for dozens of reasons. It was rejected primarily due to consumers concerns about environmental issues. Since then, the company has expanded (somehow) and has struck some deals with environmental groups (paid off people). Technically they can be recycled, but chances are people will throw them in the trash can.

    About the hacker thing, well duh, it only takes 20 minutes (45 on a slow computer) to rip any DVD onto the computer and then you have it forever. Yes it’s illegal and immoral, but it is the same as wrapping it in a vacuum-shrink cover or putting the dvd player in an oxygen free environment in order to get more life out of it. One day, corporations will realize that hackers are the most environmentally friendly group of all!

    I would be happy to pay for a DRM free digital-only copy, since my computers are linked up to my home theater anyways.

    By the way, DivX is an Audio+Video Codec named after the company who also released the DivX Player, DivX Inc. The quickly-doomed disposable dvd was called DIVX and required special DVD players… the failure cost Circuit City over $100 million. To add to the confusion, some modern DVD players will play videos encoded with the DivX codec, and will be marked “DivX compatible”.

    Go figure. Sometimes it seems technology takes two steps forward and one big step backward.

  12. Visitor [Join Now]
    Peter [visitor]

    Um, yeah. Download is an option, but I’ve love to see the justification in front of a judge if you do it without paying for the movie. “But, downloading is better for the environment so it’s not really immoral.” Gimme a break. It’s still copyright infringement, no matter how environmentally friendly it may or may not be.

    Now, I can definitely see building up a library on my PC and using that instead of discs. I can see using NetFlix or Blockbuster, or RedBox – especially if the rental places are on the way to/from work or similar. I can also see owning certain movies. I still think this particular idea is just another effort by a dying system trying to squeeze what it can from the consumers. I also seem to remember the last time this was tried, the discs didn’t work properly and died unevenly or too soon – I’m assuming that’s gotten better.

    FWIR – DivX was a “phone-home” system. You needed a player connected to a phone line to verify your right to play the movie. The actual compression technology for video is pretty useful, though – allowing a regular DVD to compress down easily to CD size with no appreciable quality loss to most people. There was a competitor to DivX that did this before and it just didn’t work too well.

    In other news – any word of how well this tech is selling? That would be interesting.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      Daniel [visitor]

      well the way around downloading movies so you don’t have to meet a judge is to rent the movie then use any of the many available dvd backup programs that allow people to make copies of disk’s, that is impossible to trace so you are very unlikely to get caught doing that unless your stupid and tell a bunch of people or sell copies to people you don’t know.

  13. Visitor [Join Now]
    Mike [visitor]

    The best way to sell time-limited DVD’s is through a burn on-demand kiosk. Then we have the option to rent virtually anything. I found a company that claims to do this: