Poll: Did You Ever Own a Laserdisc Player?

Long before Blu-ray, before even DVD, the Laserdisc was king of the home theater world. Yet despite surviving for over twenty years, the venerable videodisc format never caught on with the mainstream, and most kids today have probably never even heard of it. Did you ever own a Laserdisc player?

At its peak in the mid-1990s, Laserdisc reached an adoption rate of a little less than 2% of American households. That’s a quite small fraction of even the niche status of Blu-ray today. Admittedly, there are good reasons why the public never embraced the format. The huge 12″ discs were clunky and cumbersome. At most, an LD could only hold one hour of video per side, which meant that every movie had to stop for at least one side break. Depending on the model of player you owned, this could mean a 7-15 second pause while the machine’s laser mechanism moved over to the other side, or could mean that you had to get out of your chair and physically flip over the disc. Movies longer than two hours (even if only one minute over two hours) had to be split to multiple discs. Releases in the slightly higher-quality CAV format only held 30 minutes of video per side. The Criterion Collection’s CAV box set edition of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ had seven side changes! For average consumers, this seemed like a terrible inconvenience.

On top of that, price was a significant limitation. An entry-level LD player cost about $300. High-end models could run upwards of $1,500, and there was a significant difference in video quality from one model to another. The average Laserdisc release cost $34.99 to $39.99 for just the movie itself with little to no bonus features, while supplement-packed Special Editions (like those from Criterion) frequently ran over $100.

This was clearly not a product that appealed to the average Joe. Nevertheless, film buffs and video enthusiasts embraced Laserdisc for its (at the time) impressive picture and sound quality. No, judged by today’s standards, a Laserdisc will not hold up well on a big-screen HDTV, but compared to the dominant VHS format of the day (when viewed on televisions 36″ or less), Laserdisc was a revelation, with almost double the resolution of tape and crystal clear digital audio. The format also pioneered many features that we take for granted today on DVD and Blu-ray, including chapter stops, alternate soundtracks, multi-channel surround sound, audio commentaries and supplemental content.

I was first introduced to Laserdisc while in college. I had a work study job in my school’s media lab, where I had access to a couple of LD players that no teachers ever bothered to sign out, plus plenty of free time to sit around watching movies. Every weekday, I’d rent a couple of discs from a local shop called Laser Craze and watch two movies during my lazy evening shift.

After college, the future Mrs. Z bought me my first Laserdisc player (an entry-level Pioneer CLD-S201) for my birthday. Over the years, I upgraded through several models, culminating with the very expensive, monstrously huge HLD-X9, which I had to import from Japan. I also owned several hundred Laserdiscs.

Eventually, DVD took over. I was resistant at first, but (after a bumpy introduction) had to admit that the digital format exceeded Laserdisc’s quality in a much more convenient package. Then came Blu-ray, which leaves both DVD and Laserdisc in the dust. Honestly, it’s painful to try to watch a Laserdisc on my projector today.

I still have my HLD-X9, but I sold off (or gave away) a big chunk of my disc collection. Even after paring down, I still have about 200 discs that I keep around for sentimental reasons. I haven’t fired up the player in a very long time, and I may not anytime soon, but I like having it and the discs around.

Did You Ever Own a Laserdisc Player?

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50 comments

  1. Lone_gunmen

    In Australia Laserdisc wasn’t really a big thing, but I remember seeing a player as a kid at a family friend’s house. Saw a Pioneer player on the side of the road the other day but the person who threw it out cut the power cable 🙁

  2. I remember a buddy of mine got one when he purchased some big speakers from sound advice. I think he got T2 and maybe Malcolm X. I remember when he showed me a laserdisc and it looked like an oversized cd, I said to him ,”When they get them to regular cd size, I’m in”.

  3. William Henley

    I got my Laserdisc player at roughly the same time I got my HD-DVD player. The laserdisc survived the fire as I had it in the shop at the time. It actually gets more use now than it did before – I just have a tube TV in the bedroom, and the laserdisc is hooked up to that. Buying laserdiscs for $2 a piece are cheaper than DVDs at $5-$10 a piece, and usually look better on the tube than DVD does. The 65 inch Vizio in the living room has a great comb filter, so discs look decent on that as well

    Only real issue I have is some of the discs have laserrot. A Little Princess is hands down the worst case of laserrot I have ever seen, which really sucks because the movie has a great transfer (the movie came out in 95, so the transfer is probably on par with the DVD release). I’ve seen laserrot before, but this is the first disc I have seen that the player actually gets stuck and cannot proceed any futher.

    I currently have Three Men and a Baby in the laserdisc player. Its one of the not-so-great looking discs – seems to be on par with VHS. Its CLV and Pan and scan

    Speaking of CAV discs, the collectors edition of Fantasia was also seven sides. Why? Because Disney did not want to put a disc change in the middle of a song. I think its side 3 or 4 only has 7 minutes of material on it

    • Clemery

      Laser rot… the worst thing about Laserdisc! Can I ask what country you are in? I am in Australia, and it was explained to us that laser rot was likely caused by oxidation of the silver layer when being transported by air (something to do with the air pressure causing the poor adhesive to allow the layers to separate). I only ever really found it to be an issue with Columbia/Sony discs, with I Know What You Did Last Summer being the most visibly affected disc I had seen.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        Laser Rot was a manufacturing defect, and (to my knowledge) wasn’t directly related to air travel. Essentially, if the glue that held the two halves of a disc together wasn’t mixed properly, it would break down and allow air and other impurities into the disc, which would corrupt the video and audio playback. Rot always started at the outside edges of a disc and worked its way inwards, getting progressively worse over time until the disc was unplayable.

        Every Laserdisc pressing facility had Rot problems at one time or another. Most were able to clean up their acts after an outbreak. Unfortunately, the Sony DADC plant (which handled the majority of Columbia TriStar’s Laserdiscs) was notorious for its terrible quality control. A popular (though probably apocryphal) story circulated about cats being allowed to roam freely in what should have been a clean room environment, peeing into the glue mixture. DADC discs were pretty much guaranteed to be rotters. Laserdisc fans learned to identify DADC discs by their mint marks, and would scour new disc releases to find copies pressed by other plants.

        Laser Rot generally manifested within the first two years after a disc was manufactured. If you own a disc today that hasn’t shown any signs of Rot by now, odds are that it should be safe for the future.

        • Clemery

          Thanks for the clarification… despite just gathering dust, I would be totally devo if I suddenly found my Star Wars original trilogy had rotted away! 🙂

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            The “Definitive Collection” box set was a known rotter, unfortunately. I had to mix and match discs from three different copies to make a clean set. If you have the individual “faces” releases, however, those are less likely to rot.

          • William Henley

            I only have the WIP disc. As I got my first laserdisc player in 2007 (actually, still have the same player – I would say its an entry level player, but its really not worth it this day and age to get a better one, IMHO), I pretty much went out looking for special editions, movies I couldn’t find elsewhere, or just movies that I felt I would rather watch on the tube. I already had Beauty and the Beast on DVD. Now I did pick up Hercules and Pocahontas on Laserdisc, because I didn’t have them on DVD and they were only a couple of bucks on laserdisc.

      • William Henley

        I appologize for it taking so long to get back with you, but it sounds like Josh answered the question better than I ever could. I left work at 3 Wednesday and went straight to volunteer at a conference, and was there all day and evening Thursday and on Friday, then on Saturday I ran errands and had a birthday party, Sunday I worked and volunteered again that night, so this is the first chance I have had to sit down and read HDD.

        I live in the USA. Before the fire, I had a couple of discs that seemed to have mild laser rot, but they were still playable. I had a CBS Fox release of Star Wars on CLV that I picked up mainly to tell people I had it on Laserdisc, and I honestly could not tell you if it was suffering from laser rot or just a really bad transfer – the entire movie seemed to have snow in it.

        For the most part, as I only pay a couple of bucks per disc now, it doesn’t bother me too much if I get an occasional disc with laser rot. However, A Little Princess was the first time I have seen a disc be completely unplayable because of laser rot.

        Pretty much, when picking up discs now, I try to avoid discs pressed before the late 80s (unless its a really rare movie), but this really isn’t so much because of laser rot – rather its more due to the quality of the master transfer.

  4. Ah yes. Laserdisc. I used to love watching Han shoot first on that. When I got my laserdisc set of Fantasia I had to make several return trips to Tower Records because of skip problems on the discs. At first they gave me a new set each time but they each had a different messed up disc. Finally I said give me disc 1 from one disc 2 from another and disc 3 from the set I was returning and I had a complete set of good discs. I use to love the old Criterion sets for that format.

  5. I still own one, although it and roughly 100 LDs are boxed up in my parents basement. Still, those letterboxed original Star Wars films make me want to dig it out and hook it up again.

  6. EM

    I chose “I really wanted…”, but a more accurate statement would be that when I got interested and started to do the research, I quickly ran across an article describing the upcoming digital video disc format that seemed to be the thing to hold out for (even though it was still a couple of years away), and so hold out I did.

  7. Almost got a combo LD/DVD player (open box item) in ’98 when my only DVD player was in my Gateway computer, but I’m pretty glad I skipped the format (save for stuff like the original STAR WARS trilogy).

  8. I’m a late adopter. I bought my player (‘received’, actually) in 2005, for my 21st birthday. A mid-range model from Pioneer, with an input for a karaoke mike and the words ‘for professional use’ on the front. I love the format to bits; it’s actually favourite ‘home video’ collectible, and I have bought discs in every year since 2005. I’m still looking for a HLD-X9 or HLD-X0, because of the legendary status they have and the supposed quality they offer. The right disc still looks very good projected, by the way.

    So far, in 2014, I bought Raiders of the Lost Ark (Japanese disc), Jurassic Park (Japanese disc), Last Action Hero (Japanese disc), The Goonies (Japanese disc), The Truman Show (American disc) and Dragonheart (American disc). PAL discs are very, very sucky, with the occasional exception (Jumanji, Back to the Future).

    Oh, and I also received Reservoir Dogs (American disc) for free this year. My local record store buys batches and batches of vinyl, and once in a blue moon, a LaserDisc turns up. Probably because the original owner thought he had bought a soundtrack album. Whenever that happens, the record store guy gives me the LaserDiscs for free. How very nice of him.

  9. Kraig McGann

    There is content exclusive to the LaserDisc format that is worth owning. However, I keep most of my LDs and LD Boxsets for their sentimental/memorabilia value. My most prized are my Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s UFO TV Series Box sets that I personally purchased in Japan for $400 each in 2001.

  10. Paul J Anderson

    I didn’t get on board with LD until the summer of 2001. I had started to collect VHS movies back in the early 90s when I bought a Hi-Fi VCR and had it hooked up to my Onkyo stereo/JBL tower speakers via RCA cables. During the mid 90s they actually started to offer some VHS movies in widescreen and I started to snatch them up when I could. This is when I fell in love with all things widescreen and couldn’t watch pan-n-scan ever again. When DVD broke out I adopted early and started collecting DVDs to replace my VHS movies. But, some movies still weren’t available on DVD after a couple of years, most notably the Star Wars films, Back to the Future, ET and Raiders. Also some of the DVDs of films available where only “fullscreen” and I wanted “widescreen” so I began looking into LD and finally picked up a Pioneer CLD-D606 off of Ebay and started buying up “widescreen” LDs to watch on my 36″ Sony WEGA TV (all 280lbs of it!). It is now in storage and hasn’t been booted up in some time. I still have all my LDs, but couldn’t tell ya if they are still in good shape or not. I have the Star Wars Definitive Collection and the ET and Jaws limited editions with the awesome feature length documentaries, but nothing else that isn’t available on DVD or Blu-Ray these days.

  11. Here’s a chronology of my home video experience from my first player to my most recent:

    Cassette Recorder (in the 70s, this is how I ‘recorded’ my favorite TV shows and movies)
    RCA Selectavision player
    VHS player
    Laserdisc player (I believe it was the same Pioneer model Josh mentions/pictures)
    DVD player in my Compaq computer
    Stand-alone DVD player
    HD-DVD player
    PS3 (first Blu-ray player)
    Stand-alone Blu-ray player (latest version = Oppo 103D)

    • William Henley

      LOL, sounds like me

      Cassette player
      VHS player
      4 head VHS player
      4 Head HI-Fi Stereo VHS
      DVD-Rom
      6 head SVHS ET
      Stand-alone DVD (I must have went through half a dozen over the years)
      PS2
      PS3
      Laserdisc Player
      HD-DVD
      Roku
      More stand alone DVD players
      Stand alone Blu-Ray players (currently Orei BDP-M2) and a Smart Television /Xbox 360)

  12. Clemery

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhh… the memories of laserdisc! I still own my Pioneer Laserdisc player (with dual-side playback… no flipping! :-D), and a handful of single-discs and box sets… and this would definitely be my favourite home video format throughout history (so far!).

    Oh my lord… the feeling of joy when bringing home a huge lavish box set!! Now those were the days when ‘box set’ used to mean something. Before DVD came and took the “special” out of “special features”, sitting through the extras on a laserdisc or listening to an audio commentary was an amazing experience for me. And picking up a Criterion release, like Se7en or Brazil, and even other popular collector lines (like Universal’s Signature collection: Jaws and The Frighteners DC just to name a couple) would keep me busy and happy for an entire week…. and despite the high price tag for most of these releases (I remember paying $350 for a Japanese box set of “Alan Smithee’s” Dune!), it always felt like value for money.

    These days, I barely waste my time with special features or commentaries, since they are all too similar now, and I don’t need to see the same-but-different ways they use a computer to create effects that used to be done in-camera. And there isn’t really any special feeling that comes with “Collector Editions” anymore, as that can simply refer to a single extra now.

    Although I would be too frightened to hook up my LD player and see just how bad the composite SD connection looks on my HDTV, I just don’t know if I can part with my player or my collection of highlights from the era, including the original theatrical editions of the Star Wars trilogy (one of the most amazing box sets of all time!), the Jaws Signature Edition with the unabridged 3-hour behind the scenes doco, plus a few other titles that contain great nostalgia for me. I doubt very much that I would get more than a few dollars per title, so would rather retain the memories. And my Natural Born Killer’s Director’s Cut box set still gets used almost daily as a stable-table! 🙂

    Thanks for this article… the nostalgia just all came flooding back!

    • William Henley

      I would be too frightened to hook up my LD player and see just how bad the composite SD connection looks on my HDTV

      The nice thing about RF and composite is that it uses the comb filter on the television. If you have a decent HDTV, chances are the comb filter on it is significantly better than the comb filter you ever had on your SD television (that being said, cheap HDTVs usually have horrible comb filters on those connections). As such, many of my laserdiscs look as good on it as DVD does (at least 4×3 letterbox DVDs compared to late-pressed laserdiscs)

  13. plissken99

    I actually never had one at the height of the format, I bought one cheap off eBay well after DVD came out, it was a way to get a better than VHS quality version of a few movies I really wanted that hadn’t yet made it to DVD. once everything hit DVD, I ditched the player.

  14. Mark Luty

    I can still remember when I purchased my first Laser Disc player in the fall of 1983 from Team Electronics. It was a big clunky top loading player from Pioneer. It definitely was state of the art in its day but pales in comparison to what Blu-ray has to offer. Just for laughs there is a scene in Back to the future 2 movie that makes a reference to Laser Discs if anyone cares to look at.

  15. I currently own 8 Laserdisc players with three of them still hooked up and used often. Also have about 400 movies. My first was a Pioneer CLD-D505 that I got in the summer of ’95 for $500.00 from Sears. 🙂 Pretty much every movie that I loved on Laserdisc is now on Blu-ray and do own copies of those but still like to watch them on Laserdisc every now and then for old times sake. 🙂

  16. Josh you’re listing the $35 movie price as a CON. In the day I considered that a PRO.
    A hot new movie comes out, day 1 you paid $35 from Ken Crane’s or Tower Video for the laserdisc or $100+ for the VHS tape.

    I still have a 704 player (not hooked up) and a fair amount of discs in storage totes.
    When dvd came out the $100+ day one release days were over but they offered shitty transfers and horrible compression artifacts (think TWISTER.) Along with that, you had to flip discs over still. Then they came out with dual layer but it was not RSDL so there was still a noticeable pause while it changed layers. Even to this day there is a noticeable glitch when layers are changed.
    The only glitchy Blus I see are ones that use branching. Death Race was the last one I saw and it was terrible. The studios are holding Blus back. By still offering dvds, and in some cases dvd only for certain releases. The DRM related issues, slow loading times and other snafus.

  17. Jak Donark

    I still have my second LD. Got my first in 96 when I got Raiders, Jurassic Park, and my Star Wars Definitive. Still have around 40 discs, including lots of Disney and Spielberg (ET box and CE3K Criterion among my favorites). Oh yeah, and the Japanese a Episode 1 theatrical cut, with a terrific 5.1 mix.

  18. I should add to this story because it’s pretty funny. Anyone that knows why they preferred laserdisc over vhs and could appreciate it will love the episode of Regular Show titled “The Last Laserdisc Player” – lots of references about video quality, etc. And of course just in the crazy Regular Show style.

  19. BasicBlak

    Ahhhh, the laser disc… I knew ye well! 🙂 I owned three players, the first being a Yamaha, one of the early players to decode and playback PCM digital stereo. (Up until the mid to late 80s, most discs contained only analog FM mono/stereo.) Then followed a Pioneer model (both it and the prior Yamaha were single-side-only players requiring a manual flip); and, lastly, a Panasonic LX-H680, the first and only player I owned that featured automatic side-flipping, S-video out, and both optical and RF Dolby Digital outs all at once. It was also capable of streaming DTS audio. (I’m sure we all remember how frustrating it was initially when DTS tracks first appeared on LD: upon DTS’ in-home launch, most optical/coax out-featured players could not pass the DTS stream without an expensive after-market upgrade.)

    My first mega-expensive (for the time) LD purchase was the very first release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the CAV boxed set bought at Ken Crane’s LaserDisc in Westminster, CA, for a whopping $100! I remember at the time it being a total home video revelation! Instantly, I became the cool [grown] kid on the block. 🙂 Played back via my Fosgate-Audionics Model 3A analog THX decoder, it was a sonic marvel (eventually the Pioneer-manufactured extended edition box set blew it away… By the way, many went for the silver-embossed cover–I went for the gold. How about you?) From that release, I never looked back and was sucked in, hook, line & sinker. I came in a little late with Criterion, only because they were so expensive–funds were tight and my desires were bigger than my wallet in those days. But once I broke my cherry (and the bank) with T2, it was nothing for me to rationalize picking up a Criterion title periodically, which really was the gold standard even back then. My first Criterion Collection title: The Silence of the Lambs (CAV), followed by RoboCop (CAV box set) and then several of their earlier-released classics. Many titles had come and gone throughout the 90s, but I recall several being real stand-outs, for various reasons: Jaws (CAV box set – The PCM mono audio track was surprisingly impactful! The opening theme had a crushingly deep bass note that has yet to be duplicated even on the Blu-ray); Star Wars–The Definitive Collection (CAV box set – Too many reasons to list, but the PCM Dolby Surround track red-lined my Model 3A at just about every turn; All three Jurassic Park DTS LDs (Played back via my external Millennium 2.4.6 DTS decoder – Aside from looking fantastic for their time, bone-crushing, seemingly limitless bass and wildly active rear channels made these the discs to beat; and finally, in my view one of the very last of the great LDs, Saving Private Ryan (both Dolby PCM and AC-3 tracks).

    As time (and technology) went on, my trusty ol’ Panasonic LD players saw less and less action, and my LD collection gradually dwindled as I began upgrading titles with their anamorphic LD counterparts. But occasionally I do still fire up Ol’ Panny–mainly to digitally extract the PCM stereo tracks from some of my favorite music LD titles and convert them to audio CDs. In the early days of HDTV, I even found the picture quality to be surprisingly viewable when up-converted via my now-retired DVDO iScan Pro video processor, viewed on a Mitsubishi 48″ 1080i RPTV @ 720p (my first of 5 HDTVs in 13 years). Today, however, I won’t even bother to “go there” anymore. Simply inferior to the point physical pain to watch on my 106″ front projector setup. But, like my Marantz 8-track player from 1979, until it finally gives up the ghost, I’ll NEVER part with it or 40 some odd titles I’ve held on to for posterity. 🙂

    (Side note: For some inexplicable reason–and I only came to this realization recently–T2 and The Fifth Element are the only 2 titles I’ve ever owned in ALL of their digital home video incarnations, from LD all the way up to Blu-ray [even an HD-DVD extended edition import for T2].)

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I also went for the gold logo version of the Terminator 2 box. As I recall, red and blue variations were also available in later pressing runs. I believe the red is rarest (not that any of them is really worth much any more).

  20. I still have 3 LD players at home. My first was the Philips CDV-488. This was Joe Kane’s reference player. Then the “auto reverse” unit came and I got myself Pioneer CLD-97. I took that to college with me. When Pioneer stops making the player I bought CLD-99. These are probably the best Laserdisc ever made.

  21. Yes. I’ve even written a thing or two about it in my blog. After leaving the old Laserdisc behind when in 97 – Star Trek VIII: 1st Contact arrived on DVD and I bought my 1st DVD player ( a JVC – then an XBOX ) – I found myself thrust back into collecting the dead format in 2007. I was in Florida, and more and more disc seemed to be coming out of the woodwork after Blu-ray finally took off. I was a salesman and store manager for the now also dead retail chain REX TV – and it seemed like many of our customers, whom had been buying their big screen rear-projection TV’s from us since 1999 – would just about give us back ( either that or we’d buy back- for cheap in order to get them to upgrade) their old gear, including LD players – which is how I got my current Pioneer 8000. DVD didn’t kill off the Laserdisc, but BR and HD sure did. However – I’m still buying them big ol shiny disc after all these years, and I’m not the only one. There is a great little page that we fans of the format enjoy sharing over on Facebook. ( I’ll post a copy of this article there ) If(?) you are still interested in obtaining Laser’s -then visit http://www.laserdiscvault.com/

  22. Yes, laserdiscs–my first run-in with them was at a local electronics store in town back in the late ’80s when I was in grade school–I remember how clear the picture looked, and more memorably how good the sound was, it was like going to the movies!

    I later purchased my first LD player used with a few discs in 1995, it was an RCA (they did make, or rather sold OEM rebadged, LD players back in the day). But my mom was so pissed that I wasted my money in buying it that my folks insisted that I’d rather save, so she took it away from me and returned it to where I bought it from (that’s what happens when you’re still a high-school kid living at home with your parents). I was pretty miffed about the deal.

    But undaunted (and after getting a part-time job of my own), I bought a even-better Pioneer CLD-1010 player in 1997 (I still have and use this player to this day, it’s a great player that’s never given me any problems yet) with some discs as well, right coincedentally when DVD popped up on the scene in the US. As a result, I was able to purchase a lot of closeout LD titles from dealers like Ken Crane’s (through their website) and others. I even managed to pick up a copy of Voyager’s “Devo: The Complete truth About De-Evolution” LD directly from Voyager in ’97 via mail through their former website just a year or so before Voyager went out of business. I caught the LD bug just as it was riding into the sunset as a current format.

    I then picked up a Pioneer CLD-D502 at a flea market around 1999, which I initially used just as a CD player for my stereo (now in use as a 2nd player for my bedroom TV), and following that, a vintage 1981 Pioneer LD-660, which i got for the purpose of watching older DiscoVision and General Motors instructional/informational discs (which I just came across then). The LD-660 does a much better job playing older DiscoVision-era LDs than the newer players do, for some reason (maybe the HeNe gas laser tube might have something to do with it). Plus the GM discs use different chapter & playback control codes that, for technical reasons too lengthy to mention here, the newer players choke on. But the LD-660 ignores any codes for disc playback control (including GM discs’ codes), it passively plays them straight-through (it’s the only LD player to do so, IIRC). The GM discs were actually meant for playback in the first industrial-model LD player, the Pioneer/DiscoVision PR-7820.

    My latest player I’ve acquired is a Pioneer LD-1100, from the same era as the 660. It resembles the 660, but has “intelligent”/”active” electronics like modern LD players do. It produces a pretty decent picture as well.

    So, ever since I’ve acquired these players, I’m still collecting discs for the format and watching them, acquiring them through either eBay, LD sellers on the internet (like DaDon’s Laserdiscs), and even stores that sell used LDs (I picked up quite a few LDs, quite reasonably priced, at at the Cheapo record store in Minneapolis last April). It’s a great format, and I’m glad to see that there is a quite healthy collector’s base for it, and a seemingly endless supply of LDs on eBay, to keep it alive for posterity’s and tech history’s sake.

  23. I still have one. An industrial player. The Pioneer CLD-V2800 Slimline Player. While Blu-Ray may have been the thing that finally conquered laserdisc as the premier way to watch older films at home, it still holds a place in my heart and is home to thousands of titles not available on DVD or Blu-Ray with amazing picture quality.

    While we have to deal with the heartbreak of laser rot for some titles, the machines as well as the discs can last for years and years without any real maintenance. Try that with your current equipment.

    Also, being a vinyl junkie and that laserdisc has cover sleeves similar to vinyl, it carries over the collecting bug and can be found in the same places as my records.

    Finally, to me at least, while the Criterion Collection really has shined in recent years, NOTHING can top its lineup on laserdisc. Movies we love such as West Side Story, Ghostbusters, The Wizard of Oz, and countless others including the Bond Films, have NOT gotten treatments on DVD or Blu-Ray in these editions.

  24. Late to the party, but I’ve got six players and still spin my 300+ discs on a regular basis. I first got hooked on LD as the 2nd Pioneer-led wave was in full bloom in the early 90s. Was originally looking to import anime releases to cut out the VHS bootleggers as middlemen, but after watching the Aliens Special Edition at a friend’s house, I quickly became convinced that laserdisc was the format of choice for film enthusiasts.

    I bought a Sony MDP-333 (yup, everyone hates it – still works though) and later acquired a Panasonic LX-H680U and a pile of Pioneers (a CLD-D504, CLD-D505 and two CLD-D704s), so now I’ve got a deck in just about every room in the house, hooked up to old school CRT tube TVs, a big honkin’ standard def 4:3 RPTV and my SXRD 1080p projector (with a wee bit of outboard processing to juice up the video signal). Out of necessity, I also recently started learning how to do mild to moderate player maintenance to keep ’em all spinning.

    I started picking up DVDs in 1999 and Blu-rays in 2007, but never fully abandoned laserdisc. I slowed my collecting to a crawl for a few years, only to have it kickstarted a few years ago after inheriting a hand-me down collection from a friend. Can’t say I care much about titles that are exclusive to the format, but I am all about grabbing Criterion sets (that used to cost $100+ originally) and 90s action movies that I never got around to seeing back in the day.

    I host regular “Laserdisc Nights” at my house and go out of my way to bring up the format on the radio and especially on my YouTube channel, where I find myself digging into LD history and reviews on a regular basis.

    All hail the dead side turtle!

  25. Still use mine. I have the Pioneer 909 which is laserdisc and DVD combo machine. Laserdisc was for movies what vinyl is to music. We collect them cos of better more interesting artwork on the movie sleeves, on some occasions they are better than DVD. Also some movies or music laserdiscs have still never made it to digital format leaving laserdisc the only option.

  26. Tom Wright

    Talk about late to the party,I just recently became interested in the laserdisc format. i browsed eBay for a player,and bought some movies before I had a player. I now have a Pioneer CLD D504 Laserdisc player and have a Panasonic player arriving soon. I currently try to find movies I don’t have on DVD. Since I have been on ebay, I have over 60 laserdiscs in my collection in the last month.

    I also like the HD DVD format and still play my VHS movies.
    When the Pioneer laserdisc player first arrived,I connected it to my Pioneer DVD recorder for pass through to my 50 inch Samsung HDTV. I have several devices tied to the Samsung. A Blu ray,HDDVD,VCR and some multi-disc component DVD players round out my setup. All this is connected through a Sony HT-CT550W with a HDMI upscaler and extender. A Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick also connected this way.
    This made my copy of Stars Wars widescreen look so beautiful on laserdisc on the Samsung .

    • Ah, I love your comments. I was also quite late to the LaserDisc party (got a player in 2005). I love love love the format, the discs, and retro hardware in general. Still looking for the Gizmondo, a PAL-to-NTSC convertor cartridge for the Super Nintendo, ‘A Bug’s Life’, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘X-Men’ on LaserDisc, a Pioneer HLD-X0 and Back to the Future on MUSE LD, Tiger’s Talkboy, a Neo Geo Pocket Color, a working Betamax and Video2000 player, and Apple’s Power Mac G4 Cube.

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