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DVD Recorders Flow Into HTiB Mainstream

You know DVD recorders have achieved mass-market status when they begin appearing in home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) systems.

Last year, Panasonic launched the industry’s first recorder-equipped HTiB, which records in DVD-RAM and DVD-R formats. This year, at least three more suppliers — JVC, Bantam and Pixa — will offer DVD recorders in select HTiBs. Prices could hit $399 or less on an everyday basis in the second half.

JVC will offer two models, the industry’s first to be announced with the ability to record in the DVD-RAM and DVD-R/RW formats. Pixa and Bantam adopted the DVD+R/RW format.

Here’s what’s coming:

Bantam: The brand, marketed by GPX, is targeting late-second-quarter delivery of a 5.1-channel system tentatively earmarked to retail from $349 to $399 on an everyday basis, said GPX product manager Jerry Fix. Besides recording in the DVD+R/RW formats, the system’s single-disc DVD-receiver also plays CDs encoded with files in the MP3, Windows Media Audio, JPG and Kodak Picture CD formats. Other features include a Class D 5×80-watt amplifier (at 10 percent THD) and a 65-watt subwoofer.

JVC: Of the company’s first two HTiBs with DVD recorders, one adds 160GB HDD recording. Both systems feature multiformat DVD-RAM and DVD-R/RW recording and separate 6.1-channel receiver. They ship in July as part of the QP series of three 6.1-channel HTiBs.

At the top of the series, the QP-F90AL, at a suggested $2,300, features 160GB HDD for dubbing home videos and, via a coax input, recording broadcast and cable programs. The HDD offers simultaneous recording and playback. To improve the video quality of TV programs and home videos recorded to DVD, the device uses JVC’s Intelligent Dual-Pass Encoder Dubbing to record first to the HDD and then to the DVD disc. The two-step process, JVC maintains, delivers superior image quality, especially in scenes with fast motion or with a lot of objects moving simultaneously.

The $1,600-suggested QP-F70AL lacks HDD, but like the F90, it plays DVD-RAM, DVD-R/RW, VCD and SVCD discs as well as JPG- and MP3-encoded CDs.

The CQP-F30AL at a suggested $1,200, also due in July, comes with DVD-Audio/Video player in lieu of a recorder.

All three models feature a receiver with digital 6×100-watt amp and Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1-channel decoding. The three also come with omnidirectional surround speakers that aim mid and high frequencies upward and in all horizontal directions to broaden the soundfield. An improved Smart Surround Setup feature automatically adjusts speaker levels and delay individually for each channel rather than basing settings on an average of two speakers at a time.

The top-end models add five floorstanding bass-reflex speakers in cylindrical enclosures.

Pixa: The company’s DVOne-branded system, already available on its Web site at a suggested $499, is built around a DVD-receiver that records in the DVD+R/RW formats, plays DVD-Audio discs, and transmits surround-channel sound via 2.4GHz wireless RF to the surround speakers. The 5.1-channel system also plays VCDs, SVCDs, and JPG- and MP3-encoded CDs. It comes with front-channel 1394 connection to a digital camcorder.

In the spring, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company plans availability of Pixa- and DVOne-branded products to retailers. Pixa-branded products include LCD and plasma TVs and DLP projectors. DVOne products comprise DVD players and recorders and HTiB systems.

For its part, Panasonic has said it will continue to offer its 5.1-channel HT1000 with DVD-receiver/RAM recorder and multichannel DVD-Audio playback at $999 street price.