THE NEXT GREAT GADGET

THOSE DIGITAL-VIDEO-DISC PLAYERS THAT STORES WILL SOON BE SELLING COULD MAKE YOUR VCR HISTORY

The known universe, as you might have heard, is going digital. LPs gave way to CDs. Direct satellite is eroding cable. But the TV you watch and the movies you rent are still grainy old analog formats crying out for replacement.

Those cries have finally been heard. Last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas marked the long-awaited public debut of the digital video disc, the (putative) New Tech Gadget of all New Tech Gadgets.

DVD comes with a steamy sales pitch. Imagine a 5-in. CD that holds 20 times more data than a CD-ROM and offers the richest sound you've...