Toshiba Shows Prototype That Records High-Def to DVD

On the very same day that the president of Matsushita Electric, the parent company of Panasonic, proclaimed at the CEATEC electronics show in Chiba that the format war for high-definition recorders was already over in Japan and customers there had already overwhelmingly chosen Blu-ray, Toshiba showed a prototype of an HD DVD recorder capable of burning up to two hours of 4 Mbps MPEG-4 high-definition video. That video is apparently being burned using a red laser -- not blue -- to an ordinary DVD-R, DVD-RW, or DVD-RAM disc.

As first reported in English by CDRinfo, Toshiba's RD-X7 would not be the first high-def recorder to support DVD - Sony has a handful of Blu-ray recorders planned for this holiday season. But it would be the first to support a new file format adopted just three weeks ago by the DVD Forum, caretaker of the HD DVD format, called "HD Rec."

Based on preliminary information, Toshiba is probably achieving that two-hour span of 1080p red-laser recording using dual-layer capacity DVD-Rs (8.5 GB), not single-layer (4.7 GB). Still, it's a head-turning feature that could take advantage of some latent similarities between DVD and HD DVD mechanisms that Blu-ray consoles cannot exploit.

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But it doesn't appear that product will be ready for Christmas, although two other Toshiba models without the HD Rec feature remain scheduled for release in Japan for the holiday season.

As news continues to emerge from CEATEC, there doesn't appear to have been any sighting of Samsung's BD-UP5000 dual-format player. Earlier this week, one enthusiasts' blog cited an unnamed source as stating the dual-format player would be delayed from its intended October release, and that another high-end Blu-ray model would be cancelled.

Several other sources appeared to confirm that information to BetaNews throughout the week, though as it turned out, they were getting that information from the same blog, or from other blogs citing that blog.

Samsung has never officially confirmed any delay, though members of the AV Science Forum have given mixed reports, some saying they expect to see shipments later this month as originally planned, others expecting early November.

With so much interest in the very idea of dual-format players, you would think there might be more potential customers than just two -- LG and Samsung -- for dual-format "system-on-a-chip" chipsets. Earlier this week, Israel-based Horizon Semiconductors joined Broadcom and NEC in this market, for a total of three suppliers for a total field of two manufacturers. Horizon's value proposition is built around the ability to handle 1920 x 1080p resolution at a full 60 frames per second.

But yesterday, according to TWICE Magazine, Matsushita President Fumio Ohtsubo reiterated his company's stance that it "would never introduce such a stupid product." In response to a question about whether LG's or Samsung's success could make the Panasonic parent change its mind, Ohtsubo reportedly said bluntly he would never take the suggestion of "those stupid companies."

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