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Hasbro’s VideoThen

May 15, 2013
Bit scratched but, kind of futuristic in a puffy sort of way.

Bit scratched but kind of futuristic in a puffy sort of way.

This must’ve been one great electronic toy — it took someone nearly a decade before they were willing to throw it out. I pulled it out of a dumpster last year, It’s a VideoNow Personal Video Player, first generation, from 2003, sold by Hasbro through its Tiger Electronics division. It’s about the size of extra-thick portable CD player. Requires two AA batteries and plays proprietary four-inch PVD discs at about 15-frames-a-second on a small, low-resolution black-and-white LCD screen. It has basic navigation controls, contrast and volume, and a headphone jack. Apparently it doesn’t have much in the way of skip protection. By 2004, there was a colour version and apparently that year it was an award-winning toy. The VideoNow went through several generations, and appears to have been discontinued by 2005.

The unit I binned was in very good shape and contained a Transformers PVD disc.

VideoNow and PVD discInserting disc into VideoNowVideoNow playing transformers

Hasbro made editing software for creating VideoNow PVDs, and sold a PVD video camera. It was interesting to read how users experimented with recording on, and cutting down CD-R discs to run in the latter-generation units. There seems to be no straight forward way to play the PVDs on a computer. Click the images to enlarge them.

Here’s a YouTube video of the original VideoNow in action:

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