Why do CDs and DVDs come in different case sizes?
April 20, 2009 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Why do CDs and DVDs come in different case sizes?
posted by micahmertes to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The height and width of DVD cases match that of VHS cases. That way stores didn't have to change their shelves during the switch.
posted by Eddie Mars at 9:31 AM on April 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


And, presumably, it made DVDs look more "filmy".
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on April 20, 2009


Artwork too: DVD and VHS cases (roughly) match the proportions of movie posters. CD cases match the proportions of the now long-defunct LP cover. However, it's all going nuts now since BlueRay movies come in squatty little boxes.
posted by jamaro at 9:36 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a data point, when CDs first appeared the jewel cases came in an outer cardboard sleeve that was the same height as a vinyl LP, for presumably the same shelf-size reasons.

I still see those cardboard sleeves [though now generic] at places like Costco. Not sure what the deal is with those. It's not like they're reusing vinyl record shelving.
posted by chazlarson at 9:38 AM on April 20, 2009


chazlarson: I still see those cardboard sleeves [though now generic] at places like Costco. Not sure what the deal is with those. It's not like they're reusing vinyl record shelving.
It makes them harder to steal.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 9:48 AM on April 20, 2009


As said so far, I assume the DVD cases were made to match VHS cases, while CD cases are square to refer back to square record cases.
posted by kidsleepy at 10:20 AM on April 20, 2009


Oops, my answer is totally redundant. Nevermind!
posted by kidsleepy at 10:20 AM on April 20, 2009


So why does the plastic spindle in the CD cases have the slots that you can press nicely to release the hold it has in the disk, but DVD and Game cases those slots aren't cut through fully and you can't just push down in the spindle to release the disk (you have to kinda lever upward with a fingernail at the edge and hope the spindle releases it's grip before the disk snaps in half).
posted by Xhris at 10:40 AM on April 20, 2009


To justify charging more for DVDs by making them look distinctly different, concealing the fact that they both use the same basic technology. If something's bigger, you subconsciously perceive it as more valuable.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2009


It's simply so you can easily tell in the store what's a CD and what's a DVD (and what's a Blu-ray).
posted by Dec One at 11:22 AM on April 20, 2009


DVD cases and VHS sleeves are *NOT* the same width and height. I don't have one on me to measure exactly, but I believe VHS tapes are about 1.2 inches narrower and 0.2 inches shorter than DVD cases. Most VHS were sold with sleeves and not hard plastic cases. If you're talking about VHS cases (which would be found in movie rental places, or sometimes used in store-bought VHS e.g. Disney movies) then the width and height might be closer to that of a DVD case, but still not the same.
posted by bengarland at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2009


Here's a brief article on CD cases ("[t]he packaging was appropriate to the revolution. Clear polycarbonate with a jewel-like quality, it suggested quality"). Wikipedia agrees with the CD Longbox as a transitional form from Vinyl to CD, but what of the tape era? I'm too young to remember how stores were stocked with tapes in the days prior to CD. Wikipedia also agrees that DVD keep-cases mimic VHS cases, again without citations.

And just for fun, history of disc-based game boxes.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:40 AM on April 20, 2009


bengarland: VHS cases are narrower on the shelf, but they are the exact same height when sitting upright next to each other. I had to look at my bookshelf to verify this, and I hope my eyes don't lie, but it appears I could put a level across that shelf of mixed media and it would touch all the tops and register centered.
posted by hippybear at 12:05 PM on April 20, 2009


er, um... "exact same height as DVD cases"
posted by hippybear at 12:07 PM on April 20, 2009


So blind people could tell the difference between two otherwise identical-feeling types of digital media?
posted by Muffpub at 1:08 PM on April 20, 2009


CD Longbox as a transitional form from Vinyl to CD, but what of the tape era?

The purpose of the long box was to put the CD above the fold, so to speak. That is, when in a bin created for vinyl, the art work would be visible with the least amount of effort.

Cassettes were marketed two ways: one was in a long box as well and the other was just individually, where they were stacked in racks like cigarettes on a shelf. Some retail stores created their own long boxes which they removed prior to sale. These long boxes put the artwork above the fold and, as someone mentioned, make it harder for them to steal (and allowed stores to surround the product with security tags).

As for why CDs and DVDs have different cases, I agree that it has to do with the aspect ratio of the original marketing material (LP artwork vs. movie posters).
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:06 PM on April 20, 2009


As for the pin to release the disc, there are many, many variations of these pins. In fact, I bet there are over 100. A friend of mine works in a used store and has commented that there is a guy who is paid to sit in a room and try to come up with new pins.

As to why the DVD cases, on average, have different release pins than the average CD case probably has something to do with patents. I'd bet that the initial DVD cases were different from CD release pins because the studios didn't want to pay the price to license them so they invented their own and patented them. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:10 PM on April 20, 2009


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