DODGY DVDS HIT REGION ONE[QQ] Watchdog has become alarmed over reports on the Web and in Internet newsgroups from owners of region one DVD Video titles, who claim that some of their discs have started to deteriorate. Specifically, reports have centred on dual-layer (RSDL) discs - which can hold around 9Gb of information and are increasingly popular for new films. Dual-layer discs are manufactured using a process that squeezes two layers of plastic together, and some believe that the fault may lie with the glue used or another element of the process that binds them. Single-layer and double-sided discs appear unaffected. Signs of deterioration include the picture breaking up into chunks at a certain point, then continuously throughout the disc, and cloudy patches on the surface of the disc that can be seen under a very bright spotlight. The patches are reported to be more or less invisible under normal lighting conditions. Users also reported that the discs had played fine for a while, indicating that the breakdown could happen over time. At present, only region one discs produced for use in the US appear to be affected and the titles users have experienced problems with include LA Confidential, Contact and War Games. What PC? has also experienced problems with the US version of Antz, although it is unclear whether these involve the same issues. This news follows increasing reports of disc incompatibilities with standalone consumer DVD Video players. Watchdog would urge manufacturers of both DVD Video and DVD-ROM applications to investigate these developments that could jeopardise the future of the format. More information from: www.mindspring.com/~yerington/ HARD TIMES FOR PMC Despite a healthy knack for producing high-performance, award-winning products, PMC Electronics - known throughout the UK for the Pace brand - has ceased trading. The West Yorkshire-based manufacturer of modems and PC add-on cards went into administrative receivership in August, and there are reports of numerous redundancies. The news came as something of a shock not only to us here at What PC? but also to PMC Electronics' customers, who currently have products under warranty. Products produced by PMC Electronics include the popular 56e Voice modem, which won a Best Buy in our June 1998 issue, the Voodoo Banshee-based Pace 3D Edge graphics card, the Pace Colour Video Camera and the Pace TV Card. The receivership is being handled by KPMG in Nottingham. PMC Electronics has stated in a recorded announcement that users with technical queries and support issues should direct them to their local PC distributors. As expected, Watchdog could not contact PMC Electronics by phone but checked the company's Web site at time of writing - www.pacecom.co.uk - and found that it was still active and that the latest drivers and updates for a number of products were available for download. More news as it arrives. NB: It is important to note that PMC Electronics should NOT be confused with Pace Micro Technology, maker of set-top boxes for OnDigital and Sky.
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