LG, Toshiba Show Blue Laser Recorders

LG Electronics and Toshiba are both planning to use the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show to unveil high-definition video recorders that use next-generation blue laser technology, the companies say.

LG Electronics will show its LG-XBG420, a high-definition video recorder that supports both Blu-ray removable media and has a built-in 200GB hard drive, the Seoul-based company says.

The player sports an IEEE1394 interface and a DVI (Digital Video Interface) connector that supports Intel's HDCP (high-bandwidth digital content protection) system for copy-protection of content on the DVI bus. There are also built-in tuners for both conventional NTSC and high-definition ATSC broadcasts, LG says.

It's expected on the U.S. market during the third quarter of this year and is likely to be priced at under $3000, says John Taylor, a spokesperson for LG's North American unit.

This is about the same price that Sony's BDZ-S77 Blu-ray recorder sells for in Japan. At present, the Sony recorder is the only commercial Blu-ray recorder. The company has yet to announce any plans to sell the recorder outside of Japan.

Both LG and Sony belong to the nine-company group developing Blu-ray. The other companies are Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, and Thomson Multimedia.

High Definition DVD

Toshiba HD
Toshiba said it will show a prototype video recorder based around High Definition/High Density DVD (HD-DVD). The format is a competitor to Blu-ray and is being developed by Toshiba and NEC under the DVD Forum.

It is expected to be adopted by the DVD standards group as the official successor to current generation DVD discs although whether it or Blu-ray or another as-yet-unannounced format ultimately wins over consumers is yet to be seen.

Toshiba's device uses a recently developed optical pick-up that houses both the red laser required for current DVD discs and the blue-laser required for HD-DVD discs, as well as a common lens to allow compatibility with both formats. Also included in the prototype is a new LSI (large scale integrated circuit) chip that combines a servo controller, data signal processor, and ATAPI interface together.

Coming Soon?

Commercial launch plans for the recorder have not been announced by Toshiba and the company is unlikely to make any predictions until at least version 1.0 of the format is finalized, says Midori Suzuki, a spokesperson for Toshiba in Tokyo. Engineers are currently working on preparations for the first version of the HD-DVD format having already finalized version 0.9 of the system.

The company will also hold off on launching a product until it decides a market exists for such a device.

With high-definition broadcasting still in its early days and recorder prices hovering around the $3000 point, such machines are still regarded as niche products. But this year's CES is expected to see the launch of a wider range of compatible televisions and other products.

LG will also announce a hard drive digital video recorder that can record high-definition broadcasts. The LST-3410A has a 120GB storage capacity, which is enough for around 12.5 hours of HDTV programming according to LG, and also has IEEE1394 and DVI/HDCP interfaces. It is expected to launch in the U.S. sometime within the next three months. The price will be announced during CES.

See PC World's ongoing CES coverage.

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