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Toshiba Unveils HD DVR/HD

Tokyo — Toshiba gave a glimpse of what might be just ahead for the United States in the HD disc war when it introduced to the Japanese market two high-definition Vardia DVR and HD DVD recorder combo decks.

In addition to a built-in HD DVD recordable drive, the new DVRs also include dual tuners, adding the ability to record two digital HD television programs simultaneously.

The units also integrate Toshiba’s Vardia engine, which supports “significant enhancements to ease of use and performance, including faster drawing of the graphic user interface (GUI) and improved HD DVD disc operation,” Toshiba said.

The Vardia engine adds two new capabilities to the double-recording process including: live chase play of a program as it is still being recorded; and playback and editing (chaptering, etc.) of other recorded programs while recording.

The HD DVD Vardia RD-A600 and HD DVD Vardia RD-A300 will be rolled out in the Japan at the end of June. Pricing will run around $1,600 for the A600 and around $1,200 for the A300.

Jodi Sally, Toshiba America Digital Audio/Video products marketing VP, said, “At this time, there are no specific plans to launch this model in the U.S. The introduction in overseas markets will be decided in light of the situation in each market keeping in mind the growth of recorders in each specific market.”

Plans for the U.S. market were not disclosed as of this posting.

The new models offer a choice of hard disk drive capacities. Toshiba said the 600GB RD-A600 can record about 78 hours of digital HD broadcasts to its hard drive in high-definition picture quality, while 300GB RD-A300 can record about 39 hours of HD video.

Inputs include IEEE-1394 iLINK interfaces. This will allow a connection to other i.LINK supported Toshiba DVRs in order to move content from one unit’s hard drive to the other’s and to burn that content to an HD DVD disc on the new deck. Outputs include HDMI.

Networking is supported using Toshiba’s “Net de Server HD” system, which allows network streaming of HD content stored in each unit, including copy restricted content, for viewing on Toshiba Regza Z2000 series LCD TVs supporting DTCP-IP.

Both DVRs integrate an HD DVD recordable drive that can directly record HD television programs to an HD DVD-R disc or transfer HD images stored on the hard drive to an HD DVD-R disc.

Toshiba envisions consumers using the devices to “build libraries of their favorite content,” in high-definition detail.

A Vardia DVR will also playback packaged HD DVD discs, DVDs and music CDs. Units include an integrated 1080p compatible up-scaler from Anchor Bay Technologies, to scale output for display as 1080p signals.

Supported surround sound formats include Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD 5.1 channel and L-PCM 5.1 channel. Surround sound can be decoded and output in L-PCM through HDMI output, Toshiba said.