Amadeusz Juskowiak

Digital audio tape players go on sale in japan

Japanese consumers hesitated about buying the controversial digital audio tape player DAT as it went on sale in Tokyo today but said the DAT players nearperfect sound will make it a success once it becomes cheaper

The sound is great but Ill wait until more machines hit the market and prices fall to about 100000 yen before buying one said Terumi Fujitsuka 35 a steel firm employee

Aiwa Sharp and Matsushita displayed their DAT players today although delivery will take about two weeks retailers said Aiwas machine the cheapest is listed at 188000 yen

Machines by Sony Hitachi Toshiba and others will appear as early as the end of March industry sources said

DAT players can play back and record with fidelity superior to even a compact disc They use a cassette half the size of the standard audio cassette and unlike conventional analogue machines they can make copies an infinite number of times with almost no loss of sound quality

This aroused fears in the music industry of widespread tape piracy and loss of royalties In negotiations that delayed the DAT players debut the industry demanded antipiracy circuitry be built into the machines

Machines sold in Japan are fitted with a computer chip to prevent copying through a digital signal But copies can still be made if the signal is routed through a regular amplifier Nobody can tell the difference one salesman said

DAT players have been kept off Western markets and some countries are considering banning them or imposing heavy duties unless tougher antipiracy circuitry is added But Japanese hardware makers hard pressed for profits in the era of the high yen and growing competition are eager to carve out a profitable niche

Prices of DAT players will probably fall quickly possibly to around 70000 yen by next year as other makers put their products on the market industry analysts said

They said by 1990 sales could reach six mln units per year

Philips of the Netherlands has said it will launch its DAT player on the world market later this year