The advent of personal video recorders revolutionized the manner in which viewers could watch and record television programs. However, until recently, owners of digital recorder were forced to transfer their programs from computers or tape them on VHS if they wanted to view them at a future date.
This is no longer is the case.
Panasonic has created a trio of set-top DVD players that allow simultaneous recording of television broadcasts onto DVD-RAM or DVD-R discs.Recorded programs can then be played on DVD players compatible with these two standards.
The DVD-RAM format is preferred by Panasonic because the same disc can be used several times.
Unlike VHS cassettes, which deteriorate in quality when played and recorded several times, DVD-RAM discs maintain high DVD quality regardless of how many times they are used.
The device functions much the same as current TV recorder devices such as TiVo, in that it allows individuals to select the program they want to record.
A special feature for these recorders is time-slip playback, which allows users to skip back to watch a program currently being recorded from any point before that — while continuing to record the live broadcast in progress.
The device can also be set to record favorite shows at a later time by utilizing auto-renewal recording. This function allows the device to record one show after another and even writes over older shows if the option is enabled.
Locating shows on the recorded DVD is simplified through a feature called Direct Navigator, which allows owners to view a list of recordings by date, time, channel and user-entered title.
Recording times range anywhere from an hour for high-quality recording mode on a 4.7-gigabyte disk, to 12 hours for extra-long recording mode on a 9.4-gig disk.
Features currently available only in the high-end model, MR-HS2, include a 40-gig hard drive that allows programs to be recorded for later use.
This technology will more than likely be implemented into newer models as it becomes cheaper to produce.
But, as this technology is still in its infancy, it is still somewhat expensive.
The DMR-E30K and DMR-E30S models retail for $700 but can be found for $375 on Epinions.com. The higher-end model, MR-HS2, which features a built-in 40-gig hard drive, retails for $1,000.
The Panasonic set-top recordable DVD drives appear to hammer another nail into VHS’ already closing coffin. DVD recorders are here to stay, and it will only be a matter of time before they are available at an affordable price for the average consumer.