By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. -Sony's short supply problems for its PlayStation2 DVD-enabled game console have created an opportunity for several other hybrid platforms, including NUON-enhanced DVD players. But neither the chip's developer nor the NUON DVD player manufacturers are actively promoting their system to disappointed PS2 holiday shoppers.
Officials with VM Labs, which created the NUON chip that turns a normal DVD-video player into a highly flexible interactive platform capable of playing games and accessing the Internet, said first-generation players from Samsung and Toshiba are not stressed as full-fledged gaming units. VM Labs sees these NUON machines as powerful DVD video players with a robust feature package, including smooth zoom, fast forward and reverse functions, and the ability to play a handful of NUON-enabled video games.
Additionally, they don't view the Sony PS2 as a movie-centric DVD-player but as a game platform.
Marketing executives with both Samsung and Toshiba said they have not encouraged retailers to display NUON players as possible alternative gifts for empty-handed PS2 shoppers. Instead, both companies said their dealers are displaying the NUON machines as step-up DVD players in the video player section of their stores.
Online sales are another matter. E-tailer Amazon.com has produced a special page for the Samsung NUON DVD machine and related NUON games. The page is accessible through searches for either DVD video players or video games.
The DVD video player search includes details on the Samsung the player (model DVDN2000, $349.99 with free shipping), while the video games search links to a page featuring both the Samsung player with three NUON-based games:Free Fall 3050 A.D.,Tempest 3000 andMerlin Racing . Each title sells for $20.99 individually.
Interestingly, supposed "customer reviews" on the site give glowing reviews of each game, with one rating the graphics and special effects ofTempest 3000 above other platforms, including "PC, Dreamcast and PS2."
Amazon listed release dates for the full versions of each title as Nov. 14 and offers a preorder button. The Samsung DVDN2000 includes a demo game disc with special trial versions of Tempest 3000, Merlin Racing andFree Fall 3050.
According to Carl Gish, Amazon Electronics general manager, "The Sony PS2 is clearly going to do very well despite product availability issues. Amazon.com sold out of its allocation of thousands of units in under 30 seconds.
"However, given the huge demand for faster, more powerful gaming platforms that also combine DVD playback functionality, Samsung's NUON-enhanced players may do well this holiday season. In fact, we have already started to see increased consumer interest at Amazon Electronics for the Samsung NUON DVD players."
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