By Deane Barker on August 9, 2004

EZ-D: The 48-Hour, No Need To Return DVD!: We’ve talked about disposable DVDs before, but I saw them for the first time in truck stops on my way to Colorado last week.

They were $5.99 each, and could be watched for 48 hours before a chemical coating on the surface degrades to the point where they stopped working. The coating starts to turn black when it’s exposed to oxygen once the package is opened.

It was a little strange to see a “product freshness” guarantee label on a DVD. There’s also a little clear panel on the back so you can see the surface of the disc — if it’s black, then the seal on the box has been breached.

They seem expensive when you can buy DVDs from Wal-Mart for about twice that. However, the attraction will likely be travelers with kids and DVD players in the car. Six bucks may be a small price to pay for peace on the spur of the moment.

(Another market will likely be people who copy DVDs. Buy one for six bucks, copy it, and you have an unrestricted version for half the price.)

And, while I’m still opposed to the product on an environmental level, I do need to give Disney some recognition for their recycling program. If you send in six used DVDs, you get a new one free.

In the end, however, this product is just a stopgap measure until you can walk into a truckstop with a laptop and download a DRMed AVI without the need for any media. That day is coming, probably sooner than we think.