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So what is a CLD-A100 LaserActive?  It just looks like a big Laser Disc player right?  Well, actually that's what it is but with a lovely little secret.  The LaserActive was Pioneer's attempt to enter the multimedia market to play against the likes of the CD-i and the 3DO.  With Pioneer not exactly being in the games market they came up with a very clever solution that would allow them to enter the market with a library of hundreds of quality titles.  This alone should have made the machine a clear cut winner and in the eyes of a true gamer it was however the price of the unit at launch was far too expensive.  Add poor marketing and the LaserActive quietly disappeared just around the time the 3DO was gaining popularity.

So what type of games can the LaserActive play?  The the machines dedicated format was the Mega LD.  These were games coming on Laser Discs formatted in the LD-ROM format.  Most of these games were ports of PC RPGs or educational crap but there were also some arcade perfect ports of animation based games such as Triad Stone (Strahl), Time Gal and Road Blaster.  The main percentage of the CLD-A100 games came from the PACs which slotted into the front of the unit.  Two system packs were available for the machine.  The most popular being the Sega PAC that you can see installed in to my system.  This PAC would allow you to play Mega Drive and Mega CD games on your CLD-A100 LaserActive.  This is also the only way to play Mega Drive games with pure high quality audio without modding your system thanks to Pioneer's advanced audio technology.  The second PAC available for the CLD-A100 came from NEC allowing you to play PC Engine Hu-Cards and CD-ROM based games.  This PAC is now considered the most rare of the two released.

Other PACs were also available such as the Karaoke PAC which would turn the CLD-A100 LaserActive in to a professional Karaoke system, and the Computer Interface PAC.  This PAC has a 25-pin serial port allowing the CLD-A100 LaserActive to be controlled by custom programs authored on PC or Macintosh computers. This PAC came with a 33-button infrared remote control providing more functionality than the 24-button remote included with the CLD-A100. Also included on DOS and Mac floppy disks was the LaserActive Program Editor.  Finally there was also a 3D goggle PAC for use with 3D movies and even 3D Master System games via an adaptor.

Above you can see a lovely front view of the CLD-A100 LaserActive.  It really does look like a normal Laser Disc player besides the Sega PAC in the bottom left corner.  As you can see, there's really next to no controls on the front of the machine.  The button in the centre surrounded by gold is actually the reset switch for the game PACs.  It has no function at all when playing Laser Discs or audio CDs.  The main bulk of controls were provided by the system's remote control or by using a 6 button controller connected to the Sega PAC.

Here you can see that Sega PAC in the flesh.  It's simply a Mega Drive / Mega CD in cartridge form.

This slots neatly in to the main body of the CLD-A100

For such a high-end bit of kit the CLD-A100 has no RGB out!  What is it with those NTSC countries and their love with piss poor composite video?

At least Pioneer could have included a S-Video out.  Sega and Victor did with the original Wondermega.