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Less is More: WAMO Introduces DVD-Mini

Michelle Manafy

March 27, 2021 | Somewhere in the annals of marketing lore, there lies a truth: Make it small, and people will be intrigued; they will pick up the tiny item, turn it in their hands, and marvel in wonder. Same goes with any wee item labeled trial- or sample-size. Sure, the makers of small things, especially electronics devices, would have us believe that the appeal is in the portability of little things, but let's face it, one of the reasons people buy a new cell phone every six months is that that the "old" ones suddenly got so heavy; the new ones are just so small. Discs are no different; miniature CDs are all the rage these days, especially in alternative shapes. Bite-size DVDs have the same aesthetic appeal, but make less sense; small size generally means less capacity, and capacity is at a premium for DVD's bit-heavy video applications. But lurking in the DVD spec, promise as yet unfulfilled, remains the implicit intrigue of 80mm DVD.

WAMO, a division of WEA manufacturing, has just announced the introduction of a diminutive disc dubbed the DVD-Mini. WAMO's latest offering, the 80mm version outlined in the DVD spec, may be little on the outside, but as in all things DVD, offers an impressive amount of capacity for its size. The discs are currently available in single-sided 1.46GB, double-sided 2.92GB, and dual-layer, single-sided 2.66GB configurations. WAMO also has plans for double sided, dual-layer 5.32GB, and double-sided, dual-layer/single layer 4.12GB versions, which compare to a DVD-5's 4.7GB capacity. WAMO says replication costs for DVD-Mini will be slightly less than DVD-5s.

Bill Mueller, vice president and general manager of WAMO, believes that the discs are suited to many of the promotional markets where shaped CDs are already found, such as magazine or direct mail pieces, but that the disc's greater capacity allows for many other uses. Mueller points out that, thus far, DVD-ROM content has usually been less than a DVD-5, so that the DVD-Mini might be well suited to providing content for promotions in children's fast food meals. He also suggests the idea of an issue of Sports Illustrated bundled with images from the swimsuit edition or video clips of last week's games on a Mini-DVD. Meuller says, "We already pioneered manufacturing of the highest-capacity DVD (DVD-18) and with Mini, we have a solution for lower-capacity requirements."

As for capacity, Mueller says, "With DVD, at 5.5Mbps you get about 25 minutes per gig. However, if you lower the bit rate you can get much longer. Or if you just put on audio you can get even longer--over 10 hours depending on audio quality." He suggests that this approach could make the mini-disc ideal for DVD-Audio or music video singles.

The discs are playable in DVD-Video and DVD-ROM drives. Because they are round, Mueller says that they will not cause the turntable motor-wear issues that shaped CDs have. He directs users to look closely at their "PC and set-top DVD loader trays. They have a recess to set in the 80mm disc so it fits perfectly." In fact, Mueller emphasizes that the DVD-Mini discs have no relationship to mini or shaped CDs. He says, "The DVD-Mini fulfills the need for attractive DVD quality applications in a unique package under 4.7GB."

The unique package which will house these diminutive discs, however, has been the one outstanding issue to be resolved for these new discs. Though printing is included in the price (except for WAMO's "super print," which is slightly more), Mueller says the biggest obstacle facing DVD-Mini in the short term is packaging. "The small size has created concern over theft," he says. "However, enclosing the smaller package in a mini long box, for example, obviously adds additional cost. Some other packaging alternatives lack the aesthetics required."

WAMO says interest in its DVD-Mini has been "great" with current applications ranging from promotional mailings, DVD-ROM, sampler discs, and music discs. Citing an industry motto, Meuller says, "All optical media is essentially a bit bucket." But he points out, "the industry is always seeking new concepts for optical media." And with DVD-Mini, WAMO hopes to cash in on the latest little disc with surprisingly big capacity.

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