DirecTV Looks on the Bright Side
At a late morning press conference, DirecTV's new president, Roxanne Austin, barely paid lip service to the satellite service's pending acquisition by rival EchoStar's Dish Network. She announced that business had never been better, with a total of 10.7 million DirecTV subscribers as of December 31, 2001, a 13% increase over the previous year. DirecTV intends to add more local channels in the first half of this year in three markets: Hartford, Connecticut; Las Vegas; and Providence, Rhode Island. It will also soon add a third high-definition channel, though no details were provided about which channel it will be.
DirecTV also plans to entice/force purchasers to subscribe for a minimum of one year to reduce the number of customers who drop the service after a few months. Initially this will be accomplished by offering three free months of HBO and Cinemax to any new customer who subscribes to the $35 Total Choice package, or better, for at least a year. Austin also announced that DirecTV will no longer subsidize hardware manufacturers, although it will continue to provide incentives to retailers.
TDK's Disc Burners Are Hot!
TDK upped the ante for CD burning once again, announcing a 40x-speed computer CD-R drive. The price for the veloCD 40x will be announced when deliveries begin in April. At the 2001 CES, TDK promised to introduce a ML (MultiLevel) CD burner that could store 2 gigabytes (GB) of data on one disc. It made good on that promise this year by showing the drive, which can burn 2 GB in less than 6 minutes and will be available this spring for a remarkably low $199 "street" price. The ML-R/RW drive is designed mainly for PC users who want to back up data, although it can also store audio. It can use write-once ML-R discs, which list for only $1.99 each, or rewritable ML-RW discs, which list for only $2.99. TDK plans to introduce a DVD burner at the CeBIT show in Germany in March -- in Las Vegas the company hinted that it may record in several different DVD formats.
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