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Philips Introduces DVD+RW At IFA

Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) was used as the launch pad for Philips’ first DVD recorder based on the DVD+RW disc format, while rivals Panasonic and Pioneer showed Europe their previously announced first decks.

Philips launched its DVDR1000 recorder in Europe, days before the U.S. launch of two models at this week’s CEDIA show. U.S. models will include the silver DVDR1000, which ships by October at a $1,999 suggested retail, followed shortly by the step-up DVDR1500 ($2,999), which differs only in its color (black) and the addition of Philips’ new Pronto Pro color touchscreen learning-style home theater remote, Philips said.

American models will offer progressive-scan video output using Faroudja de-interlacing technology.

Philips executives pointed out their system is the only one of three competing formats that is backward compatible with legacy DVD video players in all recording modes. DVD+RW decks will record up to two hours on a single 4.7GB DVD+RW disc in DVD quality, and up to four hours of better-than-VHS quality.

Pioneer’s DVD+RW format offers backward compatibility of discs with legacy players, but in only one recording mode. Additionally, DVD+RW recorded discs do not require a lengthy finalization process to playback discs on legacy machines unless programming edits are made. However, Philips acknowledged that DVD+R (write-once) discs, which are due later in the year, would require finalization on the recording for playback in legacy players.

Initial decks will require a software upgrade to enable DVD+R recording. Philips is working out a system for deploying later this year software updates on discs that can be fed into the recorders. One option will be to have buyers fill out enclosed application cards to have the update disc mailed to them when available. Discs could also be distributed to retailers to distribute to customers when they return to the store, Philips executives said.

Inputs will include a front-mounted IEEE-1394 (“iLINK”) interface for use only with digital camcorders, as well as S-Video, composite and component video. The later will accept input of 480i signals only.

Other features include: a built-in TV tuner, variable bit rate recording (VBR) to adjust the data rate of recordings based on the amount of motion in the recorded material, a built-in TV tuner, AC-3 decoder/encoder.

During the show, Philips assembled DVD+RW partners for a DVD+RW Association press conference, which was staged primarily to showcase current or pending hardware based on the system.

Both Thomson and Yamaha showed DVD+RW decks they said they plan to market next year.

Sony repeated its CES announcement that it would have a DVD recorder compatible with both the DVD+RW and DVD-RW formats in 2002.