JVC Readies HDTV PVR, D-VHS Software

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With many of its 2002 video products starting to ship, JVC invited members of the press to its headquarters for the first formal line review since CES.

Among a number of highlights for the television and video lines was the company's re-entry into the CRT-based rear-projection television category, and the announcement of a high-definition-capable EchoStar DTV decoder with integrated high-definition-capable hard disk recorder.

The company also re-emphasized the availability of its HD-capable D-VHS VCR, which in June is expected to see the first pre-recorded HDTV D-VHS movies protected with D-Theater copy protection.

As announced at CES, JVC is offering a pair of CRT-based 16:9 HDTV monitors in the 43W-inch ($2,299 suggested retail) and 56W-inch ($2,699) screen sizes as part of the stylish I'Art Pro line. The 43W-inch just started shipping to dealers while the 56W-inch model is slated for June delivery. Both include DVI connectors with HDCP copy protection.

Although JVC had kicked off its digital television program with the introduction of the D-ILA D'Ahlia rear-projection TV two years ago, the company has added more conventional (and more affordable) CRT-based units to reach a broader audience.

JVC is also offering a pair of I'Art Pro direct-view HDTV monitors with DVI input and HDCP copy protection. The flat-tube monitors have 4:3 aspect ratio in the 32-inch ($1,699) and 36-inch ($2,199) screen sizes. Both will ship in August.

As it did during CES, JVC showed a prototype HDTV tuner with built-in hard drive. Al Levene, who handles set-top box marketing for JVC, said model TU-9000 could be available as early as September, although pricing has not been announced. JVC continues to keep open final specs for the HDTV PVR, but the completed version is expected to include a 120GB hard disk drive and an ATSC over-the-air tuner, in addition to dual-tuner standard/high-definition decoding for EchoStar's DISH Network services. Levene said the unit will only stream one high-definition channel at a time, however.

The TU-9000 will also include both IEEE-1394 and DVI digital connectors. The IEEE-1394 connector will link the PVR to JVC's HM-DH30000U ($1,999) D-VHS VCR to make tape-based archival copies of HDTV programs. However, Levene said that programming that studios have decided to copy protect will not be recordable by the D-VHS deck.

As previously reported, the D-VHS HD VCR, which launched last fall, uses JVC's new copy protection system called D-Theater. The system incorporates a proprietary encryption system to prevent the unauthorized duplication of "high value content," such as feature films. Only D-Theater-equipped machines can play back D-Theater-encoded cassettes.

Thus far, four Hollywood studios — Artisan, DreamWorks, Fox and Universal — have announced plans to release HDTV titles this year.

Jerry Barbera, JVC consumer video VP, said he expects the first releases to appear early this summer and that JVC will provide referrals of software distributors to hardware retailers that wish to support their D-VHS deck sales with software. He said he expects the majority of early HDTV D-VHS movie sales to come through electronics stores and Internet sites.

Another product shipping now is JVC's dual DVD/VCR ($329). The unit includes S-VHS quasi-playback, along with standard DVD video output. The VCR will not duplicate Macrovision protected DVD content, but can be used to tape the handful of disks that omit copy protection, as well as programming available over the air or on multichannel TV services.

JVC's new series of vertical digital camcorders includes the ultra-compact GR-DVP7, as well as the GR-DVM96U ($1,299) and GR-DVM76U ($1,099). All include PC- and Internet-friendly features, including USB ports for easier file transfers to PCs. In addition to a 1.02 megapixel CCD that boosts the 96U's picture quality, JVC has added the Internet-friendly MPEG-4 format for streaming live or recorded footage. Among other things, the capability enables a camcorder to be used in videoconferencing applications.

JVC will offer seven models of horizontally configured digital camcorders, including the currently available GR-DVL series. Series prices range from $599 for the DVL120U to $1,099 for the DVL920U. Higher-end units include a 1.02 megapixel CCD, while entry and mid-range use 680,000 pixel CCDs. Another top of the line vertical model is the GR-DV3000U, which adds a new super bright F-1.2 lens and true native megapixel resolution. The previous GR-DV2000U relied on line interpolation to produce megaxel digital still shots.

In analog camcorders, JVC will offer 10 models with S-VHS-C capability and one entry-level standard VHS-C unit.


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