YANION International Holdings has announced the launch of its video compact disc (CD) players to make an early presence in what the company calls the 'next generation of home entertainment'. The firm, which specialises in cassette deck mechanisms, has invested millions of dollars in research and development. Besides video CDs, the machine can handle formats such as audio CD, CD-I, digital video, CD-Graphic, photo-CD and MPEG-1. The unit is being manufactured by the group to keep pace with the growing popularity of CDs. The disc supplies images of up to 74 minutes. It can also be viewed on computers equipped with CD-ROM drives. Yanion's marketing director, Sammy Ho, expects the popularity of video CDs to grow because they are convenient and lower priced. 'The manufacturing cost of a video CD is about $8, half of that of a video-tape,' he said. 'And a laser disc, which is 15 times as expensive, is not as compact, though it provides better picture quality.' According to Mr Ho, up to 100 new films are released on video CDs every month. The firm's video CD players sold are the 'Yamakawa' brand and are being manufactured in the group's Dongguan plant in China, which has a capacity of 50,000 units a month. The models are expected to be priced at about $3,500 each. Yanion is among the first few manufacturers of video CD players in Asia and the only one in Hong Kong. Its main competition comes from Japanese manufacturers which recently introduced their video CD players. According to Mr Ho, the group will aim at the East Asia market, especially China, where karaoke and music CDs are growing in popularity.