Samsung officially launched its 100-hour TiVo-powered DirecTV DVR here last week and revealed its roadmap for upcoming DVR and other set-top products.
The SIR-S4120R, which was announced in July, will start shipping in early September, and Samsung will add a $30 rebate to the package on Sept. 14. The rebate promotion will last through Dec. 28. The device features a 120GB hard drive and will carry a $399 estimated street price. Frank Romeo, Samsung's digital set-top group director, said this model is just the first step and the company is likely to announce an HD version early next year after it works out several details.
Chris Cudina, national sales and marketing manager for digital set-top boxes, said the details include adding two ATSC tuners and a much larger hard drive. These changes will necessitate redesigning the chassis to include the hardware and additional cooling capability. Copy protection issues also have to be worked out prior to launch.
Adding DVD burning capability to a DVR is something Samsung has considered, but in addition to the technical and legal issues he is not sure a burner is needed.
Romeo said that studies on consumer VCR habits show most do not use the machine to archive TV programming and he expects the same pattern to hold true with DVRs.
"With a 100-hour capacity disk, do you really need an external recording device?" he said. "There is enough room on the hard drive to store some programs."
Looking at the future evolution of the DVR and other set-top boxes, Samsung is in the process of developing a home Internet Gateway product that would encompass broadband Internet connectivity, a variety of home networking options and other audio and video services. A product could be out sometime in the next two years, he said.
To get a better handle on what such a system will require, Samsung, in conjunction with Comcast, is about to conduct a 50-home test in a Philadelphia suburb. One question that Romeo hopes the trial answers is how many TV tuners future set-top boxes/Internet Gateway would require and how the incoming signal will be distributed throughout the home.
In other news, CBS head engineer Bob Seidel said the network was readying the launch of "The Late Show With David Letterman" in HD. The studio is now equipped with HD cameras, but the rest of the conversion is still in the planning stages.