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DVD woes

As I mentioned in the comments to my previous post about my RoboCop: The Series DVDs, one of the discs has a flaw that made it freeze up in the final minutes of one of my favorite episodes of the show (“Heartbreakers”), and had trouble starting the next episode on the menu.  I’ve been driving around looking for a way to get it polished, since my attempt with a polishing kit from the drugstore didn’t help, and I was told there was a DVD/game buyback place that had a polishing machine.  So I took the disc in there to get it polished, and they said they got it as good as they could, and indeed I could see no sign of the scratches I’d noticed earlier.  But it still glitches at the same place, just a bit less so at first.

On the other hand, it plays perfectly on my laptop.  Which is great, but I don’t want to watch it just on my laptop.  Maybe it’d play better on a different, newer DVD player, and I do have one, but it’s not currently plugged in, since the DVD/VHS dubbing deck is in its place.

So I’m not sure what to do.  Would it be worth it to complain to the dealer and try to exchange it for another set?  What if that set had a different defect?  The packaging doesn’t hold the discs very well, so scratches may be unavoidable.  Maybe I should just live with it — and use the dubbing deck to make a backup DVD of that disc’s episodes from my VHS tape, just in case.  (As it happens, the tape they’re on has better image quality than the first tape I attempted to dub before I found out about the DVD set.)

Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t be too upset.  One way or another, I have the complete series on home video now.  And the disc is playable on some machines if not others.  Maybe the problem is just with the dubbing deck.

And one good thing about this Canadian DVD set, for all its bare-bones content and non-remastered image quality and bad packaging and inexplicably altered subtitle — it has all the original source music.  All the episodes that had licensed songs still have them intact and unreplaced, which I gather is often not the case for DVD releases of TV series.  Now, there isn’t much source music in the show, and generally I care far more about the original instrumental underscoring for a show than whatever songs may be stuck in, but I am glad to have the episodes as they originally aired — and the ending of “Heartbreakers” just wouldn’t feel right without “I Only Have Eyes for You.”

Anyway, my trip to the DVD buyback store wasn’t a total loss, since once I got the DVD polished, I browsed around for used DVDs.  And I now own the first two Spider-Man movies, all three X-Men movies (I already had the first), The Forbidden Kingdom, and Galaxy Quest, all for under 20 bucks total.  Well, assuming they aren’t damaged.  They all got a polish before they were handed over to me.

And I was expecting something much gentler and precise for a DVD-polishing machine.  These were basically grindstones, and the clerks just put a finger in the center hole and held the DVD loosely against the wheel as it spun.  Seems a bit haphazard to my untrained eye.  And it defied everything I’ve read online about how DVDs should only be polished with radial strokes, outward from the center.  But it must work reasonably well, or I guess they wouldn’t keep doing it.

You know, I remember back when compact discs were still a new technology, and one of their selling points was that they were basically scratchproof because of the redundant encoding or whatnot.  I gather that DVDs encode the data more densely and so they’re more vulnerable to errors as a result of scratches.  Still, it’s an oddly vulnerable technology for something so “advanced.”  At least vinyl records just popped when the needle hit a scratch.  Well, or jumped a groove if the scratch was bad enough.

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  1. Nathan
    March 17, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Actually, I have heard that DVDs have much better error correction built into the players, so they are much less vulnerable to scratching. It’s counter-intuitive to an extent, but there is the 10-12 years of technological progress between the two formats.

    • March 17, 2011 at 8:26 am

      Though evidently it depends on the player — some are better at coping with error than others.

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