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The VideoNow is a portable video player produced by Hasbro and released by their subsidiary Tiger Electronics in 2003. The systems use discs called PVDs (which stands for Personal Video Disc), which can store about 30 minutes (half an hour) of video, the length of an average TV show with commercials (a typical TV episode is about 20–23 minutes without them), so each PVD contains only one episode, with trailers at the end to use the leftover time on most PVDs, including Nickelodeon PVDs. Video data is stored on the left audio channel with audio on the right channel, thus making it impossible to achieve stereo sound on the system, which only plays mono. The video plays at about 15 frames per second. Most of the shows were from Nickelodeon, such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents. A small handful of movies were also released on the system, but they had to be split into three PVDs, due to the limited space on each PVD.
Hasbro also produced editing software for creating custom VideoNow Color PVDs called the VideoNow Media Wizard in 2005, which came with blank PVD media. A number of unofficial solutions are available for creating the oddly-formatted VideoNow files, including a plug-in for the popular video processing program Virtual Dub. The files can then be burned to a CD-R using standard CD burning software, and the disc cut down to the required size.
As the VideoNow Color does not accept standard 8 cm mini-CDs, some creative users have resorted to cutting down standard 12 cm CD-R discs, though not without problems. Hasbro made recordable PVDs available without the Media Wizard from their online store. However, at least one video has been posted on YouTube showing how VideoNow Color players can be easily modified to accept standard-sized CDs with a bit of cutting and gluing. Full-sized CDs can hold roughly 42 minutes of total video, and play with no difference in the modified player.
It should also be noted that as VideoNow uses video discs, and that it has very little skip protection, it is more prone to skipping if the PVD is touched.
|Media type||Optical disc|
- VideoNow - The original version. Plays only black and white PVDs, and lacks a backlight, though a light (which is simply called the VideoNow Light) is available to make up for the lack of a backlight. The laser is, when the system is off, hidden from sight, most likely to discourage children from touching it, and moved to where it can read a disc when the system is turned on. If no disc was recognized, the laser would return. This was never done since, and a sticker saying "Never touch the lens" was put on the later models instead. Was made and released in 2003.
- VideoNow Color - The second version, the VideoNow Color is a major upgrade. It has, as the name suggests, color. It also has a backlight, Fast Forward and rewind (achieved by holding the Next and Previous Respectively), and backwards compatibility with the PVDs for the original. However, it is cropped. This is the case for the rest of the models, as well. It's also worth noting that it has bigger PVDs than the original. Was released in 2004.
- VideoNow Jr. - The third version, this time released by Playskool around the same time of the release of the VideoNow Color in 2004. As the name suggests, it is a variation of the VideoNow Color and was designed for preschoolers. A notable feature is that the PVDs for this system are flexible. This was done to prevent small children from bending—and thus breaking—the discs, as it is aimed at them.
- VideoNow XP - The fourth version. Plays in color, backlit, has a larger screen and includes game playing capabilities and controls. However, the games were either quizzes or games similar to Dragon's Lair and Space Ace, suggesting that no actual gaming components, such as a CPU, essential to make other types of games (except the controls) were put into the system. Was made and released in 2005.
- VideoNow Color FX - It is simply a translucent variation of the VideoNow Color and was released in 2006. Other differences are all in the design, and include:
- The previously silver circle where the screen and buttons (excluding the eject button) were now matches the color of the body of the unit.
- Said buttons, also previously silver (again excluding the eject button), match the color of said body as well.
- The logo was slightly changed, with Color being replaced with "Color FX".
- VideoNow light: A light for the original VideoNow that requires a separate battery, since the VideoNow lacked an expansion port to connect the light to.
- Carrying case: A specialized case made to store VideoNow and PVDs in. There are 4 types, one each model.
- Headphones: VideoNow-branded headphones with a standard 3.5mm audio jack.
- VideoNow Media Wizard: Basic editing software used to make custom PVDs to play on a Color/fx, XP, and Jr.
- VCamNow: VideoNow-branded camcorder that came with a copy of the Media Wizard.
- VideoThen, a freeware tool to create black and white discs
- PVDTools, an open source set of tools to read black and white disc rips
- videonow_dec.c, another open source tool for reading black and white disc rips
- Source for Media Wizard blank PVDs[dead link], Hasbro FAX-in order form for blank Media Wizard PVD's
- VideoHelp.com forum discussion of VDN video conversion tools, including VideoNowDude's Virtual Dub plugin.