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Sega Pioneer LaserActive: A Brief History

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Sega Pioneer LaserActive: PACs of Fun!

 

   This innovative machine could do just about anything when it comes to entertainment.  Though we have listed the LaserActive with the Sega consoles, we have done so only because the system plays Sega titles.  The device was manufactured by a company named Pioneer.   Playing music, karaoke, interactive software and thousands of movies were all included in the all-inclusive entertainment system.  Released in October of 1993, this rare device allowed people to play games on Laserdiscs (what came before the DVD) and arcade games.

   You may be thinking that this device couldn’t possibly be considered a video game console.  However, because it was capable of supporting add on devices called LD-ROMs, which allowed people access to various Sega games.  This was the first pack of many which allowed the LaserActive to be integrated with several other consoles already on the market.

   When the device was released, it was the closest available to integrate nearly every kind of multimedia entertainment form in its time.  It was extremely expensive, and primarily competed with the 3DO consoles, though it far surpassed their abilities.

   While the LaserActive cannot play standalone games, it has several expansion PACs which provide excellent game play.  With the expansion packs, one can play Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Mega LD, Laserkaraoke, and more.

   Unfortunately, the Sega Pioneer LaserActive was not as popular as one would hope for such an extravagant machine.  The first issue was the high price; the device was sold at $970 in the US, much higher than a typical console.  The other issue is that the LaserDisc technology proved to be insufficient for storing video data.  The discs could only hold about an hour’s worth of video, which caused users to have to switch discs too often.  It was meant to be a successor to VHS technology, but it wasn’t quite advanced enough, and was quickly replaced by the DVD.

   Because of the failure of the technology, the LaserActive was discontinued as soon as the mid-90s.  Pioneer continued, however, to manufacture low-cost players until 2009.  Now imagine if they would have been able to release something like this today with PACs from Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and maybe even a Dreamer from Sega…  It could have been smaller, cheaper, and the consoles manufactures of today would just have to build a PAC giving them time to focus more on releasing good games.

~Vic

 

Sega Pioneer LaserActive - Model: PAC-S10/PAC-S1)

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: ???

Original Release - This module was released by Sega and Pioneer, and it allowed consumers to play games on 8-inch and 12-inch LaserActive Mega LD discs.  It also supported the hundreds of already existing Mega Drive and Mega CD games.  This was by far the most popular add-on for LaserActive owners.

 

NEC PAC - Model: PAC-N10/PAC-N1

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: ???

   The NEC PAC gave users the opportunity to play 8” and 12” LaserActive LD-ROMs, Engine CD discs, HuCards and CD-G discs.  While this wasn’t the most popular model in its time, it is now one of the most sought-after add-ons by collectors today.

 

Karaoke PAC - Model: PAC-K10/PAC-K1

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: ???

   If it was karaoke you were looking for, this was the PAC for you.  With this add-on, users could play all NTSC LaserKaraoke titles.  It includes two microphone inputs, volume controls and tone controls.

 

Computer Interface PAC (PAC-PC1)

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: ???

   This PAC allowed PC and Macintosh computer users to control their CLD-A100 from their computer.  It included a 330-button remote control, the LaserActive Program Editor and several sample programs.

 

LaserActive 3-D Goggles (GOL-1)

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: ???

   This add-on allowed your 3-D CLD-A100 games to come to life using 3-D goggles.  This system was compatible with the Sega Master System as well, as the Master System used identical connectors.

 

  • Unit Lifetime:  1993-1996
  • Generation: Fourth Generation
  • Introductory Price: $970 USD
  • Units Sold (Worldwide):  Around 10,000
  • Authorized Games Released (Worldwide):  N/A
  • Backwards Compatibility:  PC Engine, PC Engine CD-ROM, Mega-CD, Mega Drive
  • Media Type:  LD-ROM, CD-ROM, ROM Cartridge

(If you see anything incorrect or that you want added, feel free to comment below and the posting will be edited to reflect the corrections.)

 

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