The People's Daily recently carried an article indicating that sales of the China-developed enhanced versatile disc (EVD) products, which supposedly has a picture quality five times clearer than digital video disc (DVD) players, are far lower than expected.

Common complaints from users include the higher price of EVD players (about two times higher than an ordinary DVD player) the need to purchase a digital TV set to see real differences in quality, and the limited number of movie titles currently available on the market.

Nor is this problem limited to end-users – EVD player makers are also growing increasingly frustrated. Fan Wenjian, a spokesman with Shinco, a major force in the nine-member EVD industrial alliance, said more than 1,000 EVD players, including 500 in Beijing, were sold in the past week across the country following the national product launch on January 1. Anticipating higher sales, the company shipped 100,000 units to the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Southeast Asian markets.

The EVD standard is expected to expand the research and development of the technology in China so that the heavy royalties paid to foreign DVD patent owners will be avoided–currently it is reported that Chinese manufacturers need to pay US$13.8 in royalties for every DVD player they make. Due to low market reception during the initial stage, however, EVD players have to be compatible with DVD players, so EVD makers may still need to pay the US$13.8 in royalties, in addition to US$2 in royalties related to the EVD standard.

According to a poll conducted by the website CCDINet.com, 63% of 1,940 people polled say the lack of EVD discs is the biggest obstacle to the popularization of EVD players, with 20% complaining that the price of EVD players is too expensive. Although the EVD alliance has already received support from some entertainment content providers such as MGM and 21st Century Fox, with an expected 1,600 titles available this year, it is hard to say if buyers' enthusiasm will last that long and if they will be able to afford an EVD movie disc, costing about twice that of a DVD disc.

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