8 Tracks, Betamax And Divx?

With DVD catching on, the rival format's outlook is fuzzy

A year ago, it seemed like a gutsy move. Circuit City Stores Inc., in partnership with a Hollywood law firm, announced a new kind of videodisk called Divx, for Digital Video Express. The format was a variant of DVD, or digital video disk--with important differences. With Divx, consumers could buy a movie on a disk for $4.49--versus $15 and up for DVDs. They could watch it during a 48-hour period, starting when they first hit the play button, and then throw the disk away. Or they could build a library of movies on disks and watch them like pay-per-view flicks, for $3.25 a shot. The player, hooked to a phone line, bills them when they watch movies a second or third time. For an extra $15, they would get permanent, unlimited viewing. No more late fees or just-before-midnight return trips to the video store.

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