Dixons is to stop selling VHS video recorders in a move that could spell the end of the video.

Dixons marketing director John Mewett told Reuters: 'We are now entering the digital age and the new DVD technology available represents a step-change in picture quality and convenience."

According to Reuters: "VHS is in headlong retreat as the DVD takes over".

According to research, global sales of DVD players already outstrip VHS players by a factor of 40 to one. Blockbuster reports that over 80 per cent of its rentals are DVDs.

Internationally the market for DVDs is currently estimated at some $15 billion a year. The industry expects that some 450 million households will have a DVD player by 2008.

Future format

The future of the DVD has still not been decided however. In a battle that could be reminiscent of the one between VHS and Betamax the next generation of DVD is yet to be determined.

The battle is between Blu-ray, backed by Sony, JVC, and Philips, and HD-DVD, which is backed by NEC and Toshiba.

According to Reuters: "Both sides agree that high definition DVD will offer outstanding picture quality through its use of blue laser technology rather than the red lasers currently used in DVDs.

"The new DVD has more memory and can thus store more content. High-definition broadcasts require more storage capacity. As DVD recorders, rather than just players, become common, the ability to store more content will become more important.

"As a rough guide, one high-definition DVD can hold 24 movies compared with one, as at present. For the consumer, the key will be that HD-DVD discs and Blu-ray discs will be incompatible with the rival format players.

"Both formats claim to be backwards compatible, meaning that the high-definition machines will be able to play current generation DVDs."