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Panasonic Combined DVD-R & PVR Device 199

Raetsel writes "Caught a commercial the other day hawking the device I've been waiting for. TIVO is a great idea, but what if you want to keep something more permanently? Enter the Panasonic DMR-series. The top-of-the-line DMR-HS2 ($1000 US) has a 40 GB hard drive, offers "Time Slip Playback" (TIVO's "pause live TV" function), and allows you to move shows off the hard drive onto DVD. Heck, you can even record straight to DVD-R or DVD-RAM discs (which is what the $700 DMR-E30(K/S) does). There's also a IEEE-1394 input, so you can record from sources that have a FireWire output. Oh, yeah... it's a progressive-scan DVD player, too."
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Panasonic Combined DVD-R & PVR Device

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  • Formats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:35AM (#4547162)
    So what formats will it recognize over Firewire ? I wonder whether a S-Video In would be more useful than firewire....does it have that ?
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:36AM (#4547168) Homepage Journal
    ...but, this is Slashdot, where $1000 is the average yearly salary for most people. Is there a way to build something that does what this thing does, albeit poorly, using Linux and our old spare 486s?

    - A.P.
    • by Jobe_br ( 27348 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hturdb}> on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:20AM (#4547597)
      This is the type of idea I had a while back, but the short answer, unfortunately, is no. At least, there's no way of building a hardware-based DVD player on the up-n-up (e.g. no DeCSS) w/o getting your own decryption key approved (that ought to set ya back a few).

      It'd be nice, though .. its gettin' to be more and more that the DIY type thing is out of the picture. And just think, we don't even have broadcast flags yet! Even so, I can't think of any way that I can build my own box that can play DVDs, have TiVO like functionality, tune both my regular cable channels as well as my digital cable channels - never mind if I had satellite, which I don't, and never mind premium cable channels or InDemand or PPV, which might require totally different chips on your tuner.

      Ah well, that's what we've got capitalism for, right? To see to our every need ... supply & demand, God bless.

    • Just remember that that average comes from 99% earning zero, with the 1% in paid employment earning shite loads so this IS interesting if your in the moneyed 1%.

      How to tell them apart? Find the guys with just one laptop - they're rich - they know they can buy a new one anytime so they give their old ones away to impoverished geeks - the rest of us keep em (and even lug em about) just in case
    • Not on a 486 you can't, I doubt you could even do the mpeg encoding and even if you could, it would take days, maybe weeks. By the time you assembled the parts for this thing you'd be in it more than a $1000, a DVD Burner alone is more than $300 and besides DVD authoring on Linux is pretty much in it infancy, it has only been possible for a few months. Although you could do it with a regular CDRW making VCD instead of DVD. Honestly, if your yearly income is $1000, then you have bigger problems than this.
    • while we're at it, how can I build a tv to use my homebrew DVD-R TiVO on?
    • by RC Pavlicek ( 8145 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @12:25PM (#4548170) Homepage

      Here's a page explaining how I constructed a Linux-based TV recorder for about US$300: html []

      It creates files that can be burned to VCDs. I have no DVD burner, so I can't say what would be needed to create DVDs from the output. But it's using all Open Source software, so you can tweak it until it does what you want.

  • excellent (Score:4, Funny)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:36AM (#4547172) Homepage Journal
    It's great to hear that it's a progressive-scan player. My current DVD player is a Christian conservative-scan model, and it refuses to play a sizeable proportion of my video collection.
    • No problem, anything the Christian conservatives have a problem with sounds like just my taste in video. You can send them to me and I will keep them safe for you. :-)
  • What's the catch? How did the industry let this happen? I wont say that people arent already doign this with DirecTiVos and outboard PCs but this seems like it would be really scary for networks and other "anti-copying" people. And how long until someone hacks this thing to allow DVD copying? Then it will really be some technology to watch... At any rate this may just be my next toy :)
    • by SkulkCU ( 137480 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:40AM (#4547232) Homepage Journal

      How did the industry let this happen?

      I've heard it said that companies make way more on hardware than they ever could on entertainment. I don't really have any numbers on that, but it doesn't sound unreasonable.
    • The catch is:

      The tech industry completely DWARFS the entertainment industry.

      Got it? Keep that in mind when you read the next 'Disney is going to control the world' rant.
    • by Raetsel ( 34442 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:45AM (#4547280)

      Perhaps it's this little "feature" -- (from the Panasonic site):
      • "Recording from the hard disk to a DVD-RAM or DVD-R disc cannot be done with images for which only single-generation recording is allowed. When recording these images to a DVD-RAM disc, the original image on the hard disk is erased. "
      There you go -- only one copy of a 'restricted work' can exist thanks to this device. But you can have it on reasonably durable media.

      So it's got some sort of restriction ability built-in. Bad that you can only make one copy (but then burn more from your computer?), but good that you could save, say, the Angels winning the World Series for posterity.

      • So it's got some sort of restriction ability built-in. Bad that you can only make one copy (but then burn more from your computer?), but good that you could save, say, the Angels winning the World Series for posterity.

        Yeah, cause, God knows, that kind of thing won't happen twice. I just feel bad for all the Red Sox fans thinking of buying a PVR for "next season, which will be OUR YEAR!"

        - A.P.
    • First a DiVX ;) compatible DVD player... Now a PVR that burns DVDs.

      This is gonna be a bad season for "media companies" which can't learn how to take advantage of new media formats...
  • If you're that bothered, why not hook up a network card to your TiVo, extract the data from the hard disk over the network and burn a movieCD?
  • I've got a series 2 TiVo (with the USB port and network functionality). I've been wondering how hard it would be to expose the video on my network and pull it down to one of my systems to burn onto VCD (I don't want a DVD burner yet, waiting for the formats to settle down).
    • I don't think the series 2 units are hackable like the series 1 tivos were. There is some sort of cryptographic signature check on the config files, so it's not just a quick edit to the files to give yourself telnet and ftp.

      Somebdy will figure something out though-- in the meantime, check out the tivo forums here: y. php?forumid=8

      When I peeked just now, the very first thread was titled "No, you cannot hack a series 2 box (yet)" and had quite a bit of good info. Be patient, though-- somebody will figure it out. :)
  • Or (Score:3, Funny)

    by yatest5 ( 455123 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:39AM (#4547208) Homepage
    The top-of-the-line DMR-HS2 ($1000 US) has a 40 GB hard drive

    Er, or they could do a 60Gb one for $1040?
  • This is dumb. (Score:2, Insightful)

    If you have a spare $1000, just make your own unix box, setup your own implementation and you dont have to worry about "service" fees later. You don't have time?? then why are you watching TV!?!?!?
  • by jcrash ( 516507 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:39AM (#4547210)
    The complete lack of a mention of a program guide and this statement:
    A list of recording dates, times, channels and (user-entered) titles are shown on screen.
    ...make me think that it has no program guide. The lack of a guide is a "deal-breaker" feature to me. Plus, once you've had a PVR with two tuners - you can't go back.
    • Lack of a program guide means it's not Tivo, but don't just judge it by Tivo's standards. Tivo doesn't have a DVD-R drive in it, either.

      I have digital cable, and the set-top box is required for HBO and other pay services. The program guide included with the digital box is quite good. When I think about getting a Tivo and the service associated with it, I think I'm kind of paying twice. All I really want is a HD-based VCR -- I already have all the program guide I need.

      This kind of a box fills the gap between what Tivo is hardware is, and what it does service-wise, with at least one great extra, DVD recording.

      I'd buy a Tivo this afternoon if it could tune digital cable with an internal tuner, and if I could buy the service-for-life with the opportunity to transfer it ONCE to a new Tivo. otherwise it seems like just another $xx.xx per month I don't really feel the need for.
      • It takes a *lot* more than a built-in program guide to make a TiVo. TiVo's ability to record every new episode of a show--regardless of what the network (or local affiliate) decides to do to its time slot--is a huge feature. If it weren't for TiVo, I wouldn't have seen a single episode of the current season of The Drew Carey Show. My local ABC affiliate shows it at 10:30 on Sunday nights for some reason.

        In addition, your reasons for not buying a TiVo are really weak. What benefit do you get from having a built-in digital cable tuner? TiVo will work with your existing cable box to change stations. Why is the inability to transfer a lifetime subscription a deal breaker? If you tried TiVo, you'd probably be fine with the lifetime sub cost or paying the monthly fee. As it is, it seems you're just making excuses.

        • In addition, your reasons for not buying a TiVo are really weak.

          TiVo's ability to record every new episode of a show--regardless of what the network (or local affiliate) decides to do to its time slot--is a huge feature.

          I don't need or want that feature. If I don't watch most things about the time that they're on (within a few days), I won't ever watch them. TV watching fills "down" time, it's not that much of a purposeful activity for me.

          What benefit do you get from having a built-in digital cable tuner?

          The ability to tune the channels directly without the cable box overlays? The elimination of an overly complicated wiring setup? $8 per month discount, since I wouldn't have to rent the cable box?

          Why is the inability to transfer a lifetime subscription a deal breaker?

          I don't trust that the box will last for 3 years. All of my AV components have served me for at least that long before being replaced. I don't think a HDD will last that long, at least not suffering the abuse it would get in a DVR. Broken Tivo == lost service. I note that Tivo does not mention on their site what the product warrantee is. If Tivo would make product lifetime subscription transferable within 3 years I might bite, since my investment would have some protection.

          The Tivo costs $349+$250. I get a bunch of VCR scheduling stuff I'm unlikely to use, and I run the risk of having it be pretty much useless if I have it break after 12 months or so. New Tivo, new service contract. I'm happy with my digital cable guide now. I do occasionally record programs on TV, and some of them I actually want to keep. For $1k I get the Panasonic DVR that does VCR duty as well as making DVDs. It just sounds like a better fit, although $1k is still too expensive. When they hit $600 I'm buying one.
          • You haven't the foggiest notion how different watching TV with a TiVo really is. I won't beat you over the head with it, because it's been beaten to death in other threads here, but trust me, you're judging TiVo from an incomplete understanding of its capabilities and advantages. If you truly don't need the stuff it offers, then you don't need one. Period. At any price. Or with any features.

  • Supports DRM Too.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TXG1112 ( 456055 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:39AM (#4547216) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    *Recording from the hard disk to a DVD-RAM or DVD-R disc cannot be done with images for which only single-generation recording is allowed. When recording these images to a DVD-RAM disc, the original image on the hard disk is erased.

    I suppose we should be grateful that it supports any type of fair use.

    • I other words, it will be sued by MPAA by tomorrow.
    • Heck, who really cares? If it's on your DVD disc (unless your burned a coaster), you don't need it on the hard drive anymore. Stick it in your computer and file-share it from there if it's important to you. :)

      As you said, this is annoying, but it's probably the least annoying annoyance they could make.
  • what i've wanted (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ceswiedler ( 165311 )
    The biggest reason I would want this is very specific: tell it to record every Simpsons episode which airs (including syndication repeats) and burn them onto a DVD when there are enough of them. Ideally it wouldn't re-record episodes it had already recorded (though I don't know how it would be able to compare them) and put tables-of-content as DVD menus and printed labels (or DVD liner notes) telling me what episodes are on the discs.

    I suppose you could use this for shows other than the Simpsons...but why?
    • Re:what i've wanted (Score:5, Informative)

      by zsmooth ( 12005 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:43AM (#4547262)
      Tivo doesn't re-record episodes it already has recorded. It looks at the schedule to see which episode is being aired and compares that to ones already saved.
      • Re:what i've wanted (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well this isn't Tivo, from the looks of it, its PVR fuctionality is very minor. Personally I'd love it if Panasonic would have licensed the tivo software and used that as the interface for this device. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. But we really don't know much about the interface with this device and the discription leaves more questions than answers.
        Anyways its clear that this device doesn't use a service to get its listings, and apparently it has to be programmed like an old style VCR.
      • Re:what i've wanted (Score:2, Informative)

        by holmesIV ( 618639 )
        There is a limit to the time it won't repeat. It will rerecord something it recorded over I think it is 90 days ago. I'm not sure it it would rerecord it if it still had it on the drive, but it doesn't avoid reruns.
        • The limit is 30 days. And it still won't record a dupe of something that you have on the hard drive, no matter how long ago you recorded it (this is assuming that it can tell that it's the same show of course).

          You can also tell it not to record re-runs for a Season Pass, period. Assuming that they're appropriately marked in the guide data.
  • DMCA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by e8johan ( 605347 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:41AM (#4547251) Homepage Journal
    Isn't this a violation to the DMCA... By playing back a DVD in a player encoded for one region and burning it down in another I break the copyright! Go out and arrest some engineers, see if you can get a CEO too...

    This makes me wounder when TV broadcasts will come with a signal saying that the show can only be seen once, then the recording will be deleted.

    Except from my fears of stupid politicians, I think that this is great progress. If I wait for half an hour before watching the movies on TV, I can fast forward past all the ads... hmm, I like that!
    • Re:DMCA (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:21AM (#4547610) Homepage
      This makes me wounder when TV broadcasts will come with a signal saying that the show can only be seen once, then the recording will be deleted

      The studios are trying to get exactly this. Actually, they don't feel that this is adequate either - they want to have time-limited recordings and remotely deletable recordings.

      In the ongoing HDTV wars between the equipment manufacturers and the studios (with the broadcasters caught in the middle), about a year and a half or so ago the studios once again whined about there being insufficient copy protection on DTV broadcasts. They wanted all set top boxes and recording devices to comply to an as-of-yet-unspecified standard that would allow for them to set flags allowing maximum number of viewings, time durations, and remote delete capability.

      The electronics manufacterers told them to go fuck themselves.

      HDTV does have a "do not record" bit in the broadcast. But that's it. The attempts to get more invasive control have failed, and while the cable companies and studios are still pouting, the reality is that it's a dead issue now. There are too many HD receivers out there already and the US government has mandated that all TVs will be manufactured with decoders in the next few years - at that point the installed base is too big to change it. And the various companies will have the choice of selling their wares with "insufficient" copy control or not selling them at all.

      • Or, if the device companies are forced to use DRM of some sorts, mod chips will skyrocket.. or easy hacks that allow easy viewing. Look at region control and how many dvd players have simple ways of switching it that are straight forward and "hidden".
    • by "Zow" ( 6449 )
      By playing back a DVD in a player encoded for one region and burning it down in another I break the copyright!

      No can do dude. I've got the previous generation of Panasonic DVD recorder (the E20), and if I try to play a DVD on my Sampo (with Macrovison disabled) and record it on the Panasonic, the Panasonic pops up an error message and refuses to start recording. (Not that I actually want to copy and DVDs, I just wanted to see if I could.)


  • by Dyvim ( 621100 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:44AM (#4547271)
    The only I don't like about TiVO and the rest of the DVR's is that they don't work well with Digital Cable settop boxes. I have AT&T Broadband, and you can only record the channel that the cable box is set to. This kinda removes all functionality of the TiVO, since it can't change channels when a show is on, and it can't record one and watch another.
    I heard that the TiVO for DirectTV can do this stuff? Anyone have one and is it true?
    Anyone know of a future release where the TiVO and the set-top boxes work together?
    The DVR's are cool, but until they get this functionality, they are limited in use.
    • Yep, the Directv Tivo has 2 "tuners", so it can record two shows at once. Or you can watch a show and record another. Or you can record two shows at once and watch a third previously-recorded show.

      The solution to your problem is to get Directv. Unfortunately, it may not be possible where you live.

      Did I mention that you can extract video from Directivo and burn it on dvd. (If you happen to have a DVD burner in your computer)

    • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:57AM (#4547391)
      I had a Replay hooked up to AT&T Broadband for a year. You use the included IR Blaster, which sticks to the IR Receiver and changes the box's signal. Now that I have DirecTV, my Replay connects via Serial cable, I just bought an older receiver that works with it.

      I'm waitting on an HD Tivo Series 2 DirecTivo, which I expect to come out within the year. Then I can timeshift my HDTV programming. In the mean time, the 100GB drive I installed in the Replay should suffice.

      I was tempted to grab this, as I could drop-in replace my Progressive Scan DVD player and get archiving capability. However, I really don't want to buy any more gear until the HD Tivo comes out.

      Dish has an HD PVR in the works, I can't imagine DirecTV won't get one out soon, given that Tivo has gone on record stating that the Series 2 COULD handle it.

    • by gss ( 86275 )
      TiVo actually does work well with digital cable boxes. It uses an IR blaster to change channels, or if you're lucky you can hook up certain cable boxes with a serial cable, which is more reliable than the IR blaster. I'm not sure if the Panasonic devices have this capability but most others do.
      • Charter doesn't enable the direct link function, and with many cable boxes (including Charter's) the IR blaster doesn't always work. I don't have a TIVO yet but I'm addicted due to a friend who does have one (so I'll buy one after I move). His solution? A "black box" that covers the IR blaster and the sensor on the cable box so there's virtually no way the "change channel" command can be missed.

        My solution, after I move and buy a TIVO? Not use digital cable. Forget about cable boxes -- they're more headache than they're worth. I temporarily don't have a TV, so I unplugged the cable box... and Charter sent a service guy to my apartment to find out why. Uhm? Why do I need my cable box plugged in if I have no TV temporarily, and what business is it of theirs anyway?
    • You run your coax straight through the Tivo. Sure, you can run RCA jacks and split the coax to the TV and TIVO, but you can do the same thing with Digital Cable - Get a second digital tuner box. It's not the TIVO that is the issue, it's the Digital Cable that is the problem. What you're waiting for is a Tivo with two tuners, the dish version of the Tivo has this, and allows you to record two/watch programs at the same time. Why they havent released a consumer upgrade for the standard TIVO is unknown.

      One problem will exist still though, to record and watch the same things, only ONE can be set to DIGITAL while the other CANNOT record through digital because the DIGITAL BOX can only DECODE one stream per box.

    • Tivo For DirectTV? Yes all the things you've heard are true, because its the same box. Basically you can get from DirectTV a tuner that has TiVo features. I believe you don't even have to pay for the Tivo Schedule Serivce either as it uses the DirectTV schedule feed. Anyways the downside though, I believe it does have some restrictions on recording payperview and some other stuff, but thats pretty understandable as its sold by the same guys.
    • Tivo works fine with digital cable. When you use Tivo you don't watch "live" tv, hence the problem never arises. You watch everything off disk, and let it change channel to as much as it likes.
    • Hold on, did you just say you have AT&T Broadband?
      They are apparently now selling a version just for AT&T for only $199 dollar
    • I heard that the TiVO for DirectTV can do this stuff? Anyone have one and is it true?

      Yes it can do this because the TiVo is built into the DirecTV unit. In fact, it has two tuners, so you can record two shows at once, also. (That is how it allows you to watch TV while it's recording another show... dual tuners.)

      Anyone know of a future release where the TiVO and the set-top boxes work together?

      This would involve your cable company releasing a PVR, because the PVR and digital cable box have to be integrated in order to do what you're talking about. It would also need dual tuners.

      I know TimeWarner announced plans to release their own PVR for their digital cable service, but no news lately. As a die-hard TiVo user, and a TW digital cable subscriber, I am torn. I love the TiVo, but if TW's PVR is integrated nicely with their digital cable, I would definitely consider switching over.

      (When they made the announcement, they didn't specify who was providing the PVR technology ... it could be "in-house" or perhaps they're leasing from TiVo or someone else.)

      NEWS FLASH... I just did a search, and found this article [], which states they are already testing it in 2 markets, and hope to have it in 18 markets by year's end. It is $5-$10 per month for the PVR service, and you get the box at no extra charge!

      • I did some more digging to followup on my previos post about TimeWarner's integrated DVR/Digital Cable box. They are testing it in Rochester, NY, and they have a page up here []. There is a movie (infomercial) about the service where you can see what the UI looks like... does not resemble TiVo at all, so I doubt they are using TiVo. Probably custom software from Scientific-Atlanta, the people that make their digital cable box. It's called the Explorer 8000 [].

        It will have an 80GB drive. It will allow for PIP, watching live TV while recording another show, or recording two shows at once.

        There is no cost for the device from TW, you pay around $10 a month for the service. No installation charge if you already have TW service.
  • This sounds great, but I really don't think combination devices like these are going to take off until the price comes down a lot (say, about half of what it is now). DVD recordable drives themselves are just beginning to get down to affordable levels.
    • Well, duh. ANY new technology costs too much when it's first introduced. Early adopters pick it up, help work out the bugs, and gradually the tech becomes more available and prices come down.

      It's not supposed to "take off" at this price. This is the normal life cycle for any new consumer electronic device, and gradually (if the demand is there) they will take off or fail quietly.
  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InterruptDescriptorT ( 531083 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:45AM (#4547278) Homepage
    Jack Valenti sees press release, has massive breakdown and is committed to a mental institution, rocking back and forth, muttering softly to himself.

    Seriously though, how long will it be before this thing ends up on the wrong end of a protracted legal battle? If the networks, MPAA and whoever else controls the content don't like the mere PVR, imagine the controversy that this little box should cause.

    The lawyers rejoice yet again.
  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:46AM (#4547294)
    The consumer technology industry is moving so much faster than the media giants brains it is amazing. I bet the RIAA would nuke the factories making these devices if they had the ability.

    Archeaologists have been able to recover sounds from pottery spun thousands of years ago. The recording industry (AKA the people that charge $ for recordings) is going to have to adapt to the fact that once something is transmitted broadcast, acted or spoken out, it is released into the collective state of existance and is available to all.
    • The recording industry (AKA the people that charge $ for recordings) is going to have to adapt to the fact that once something is transmitted broadcast, acted or spoken out, it is released into the collective state of existance and is available to all.

      Unfortunately, this means that professionally produced media would disappear. Writers, actors, musicians, and directors would make very little money, and therefore find other jobs. This includes non-entertainment media, e.g. computer reference books. Why should I spend my time writing a reference book, if as soon as I publish it, the entire world can read it for free?

      Do you really think that you can get all the media (which you currently pay for) for free? TANSAAFL. It's in your best interest to find some (reasonable) way to pay for it.
      • Values will shift. That is the dynamic of society.

        I see plays and live action still performed. I see bands still playing live performaces. Live entertainment will still exist.

        I see actor salaries at $10e6 for a movie or $1e6 per episode disappearing. I see that as good.
        I see professional sports salaries of $5e6 a year disappearing. I see that as good. Live events will continue at much more reasonable levels.

        Books and other media will continue in some form. Possibly paid from some large pool based on recognition and contribution to society. A whole lot of distribution and sales people will be removed from the process.

        Societies change. The free information age is bringing change.
  • Great idea, but.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by matlokheed ( 602233 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:47AM (#4547302)
    ... I didn't see anything in the specs that would help you get information off of the machine. I love the idea that it pauses live TV. I think it's terrific that it can store shows you want to record. Burning is a great thing to do with TV shows. But with no way to get the show off of the box (outside of using a DVD), there's no way I'd be able to cut out the commercials for my archiving of old shows I want to watch.

    Why no ethernet port? Or even just a usb port that'd let it work like an excess hard disk for an external PC. It seems like it runs most of the race well, but gives up on the last lap.

    • It's got that IEEE-1394 port (they call it "DV in"). I wonder exactly how much function that port allows... I mean, you can get info to the internal hard drive via it, so what will happen if you attach a Mac or one of those nice little Shuttle SS-51s instead of a camcorder?
      • (Here's hoping it - like the iPod - shows up as a hard drive!)
      Guess I'll have to buy an SS-51 when I buy one of these.
  • by Viewsonic ( 584922 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @10:56AM (#4547383)
    It doesn't have daily updates of program guide data to select shows to record, subscriptions, actor/director lists, no on guide info while watching. No thumbs up or down.. Basically everything that makes TIVO awesome is NOT on this. They're getting there, but I suspect the only people releasing something of what we want is TIVO themselves.
    • Would it be theoretically possible (not for this machine, maybe, but in the future) for TiVo to offer a CD/DVD with their software on it, enabling full TiVo support with a paid subscription? If so, I can see these machines someday becoming widespread and TiVo becoming the next AOL... a TVSP, perhaps?
    • What's more, I've got the Panasonic E20 DVD Recorder (almost identical to the E30 mentioned in the story), and let me tell you: its user interface sucks. It's weird, jumping between the DVD-R and the TiVo is like jumping between a 1986 Yugo missing second gear, and a mint Jag, in terms of useability (although the Panasonic does much better on the quarter mile than the Yugo :-)


  • by Anonymous Coward
    um. philips has had both, and in fact with the philips stand-alone DVD+RW recorder it will even allow basic video editting to produce your own DVD for others to view, complete with menu and such.

    and of course philips was the first to manufacture the Tivo hardware units.
  • To see if amazon sells this product. They do []. Check out the used products you can get it for around $800.
  • Here's a review (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rfischer ( 95276 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:12AM (#4547525)
    Here's a review []

  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:16AM (#4547569)
    I've seen a few complaints in these posts about the fact that it acts like an old-fashioned VCR, and needs to be told when to record by time, rather than the Tivo-like functionality of downloading programme schedules. Thats a cool thing to have, but currently these devices charge a monthly contract fee for that, while this device is just a pay once and you're done box. Personally, I don't actually want a box that I have to pay a monthly subscription on, and doesn't dial home to let them know that I recorded last night's Scrapheap onto DVD to watch again later.

    I know better than to think that there is a single /. hive-mind, but these people complaining they want programme guides are different ones to those that bang on about privacy rights, aren't they?
    • Nope (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:32AM (#4547723)
      these people complaining they want programme guides are different ones to those that bang on about privacy rights, aren't they?

      Nope. I want a program guide and I care about my privacy. That's why I have a Tivo. They have a comprehensive privacy policy that the software actually adheres to (as verified by independant parties.. aka hackers). The data it sends back by default really and truly is anonymous. You can opt-out thru their phone number, and they send a command to the box itself to stop sending data back (also verified independantly). Or, if you like, you can opt-in to identify your data and let it be used for more useful things, although there's not much point in that as of yet.
    • And that is one of the aspects, of this device, that I like, indeed prefer over Tivo. No subscriptions, no unknown software updates that could possible reduce functionality and no Tivo phone home.

      The Panasonic machine is like a VCR, you push the button and it does what you want. But, it does so in a modern format and has a few more features than today's VCR. Unlike Tivo, which I feel is severely threatened by the RIAA, this device could indeed be the next VCR.

      I don't want a device that can do anything/everything for my television, I already have a few computers. I like this specific function device and when the price hits $500, probably after Christmas, I'll get one. By then, hopefully the price of the media will also have dropped.
    • I have digital cable and it has a great guide with it. Program details, run times, etc etc. It's included with my cable service.

      Tivo would give me a better recording-oriented guide, but I can't see it being all that much better for watching.

      Plus, Tivo can't decode digital cable internally anyway, so I end up with multiple guides. The extra money for the Tivo service doesn't seem worth it.
  • by debest ( 471937 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:30AM (#4547706) that Joe Average user might start actually to see these in Best Buy ASAP. If combination PVR and DVD recorders begin to combine the benefits of VCRs (removable, permanent recordable storage), DVD players (high-quality video), and PVRs (instant random access, freeze, content searches, etc.), then I think that these could be huge. As demand kicks up, watch the price plummet.

    If these things get market penetration quickly, then we will be able to more effectively deflect the **AA's various fair-use restriction attempts. It's one thing for /. geeks to be up in arms over this, its quite another when a bunch of people start getting used to their "new VCR thingy", and some new laws come down which says that they'll never be able to buy another ever again!

    Market penetration is what is needed, though. The industry can afford to piss off the early adopters of analog HDTV sets (that may be obsoleted by embedded permission tags in transmissions) because there just aren't very many HDTV sets out there. And of those, a bunch don't use it to its fullest advantage (ie. won't miss 1080i broadcast quality 'cause they never saw it to start with). For these PVR/DVD-R's, we need people literally replacing their VCRs and DVD players and using the features as they were designed to be used!
  • by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @11:53AM (#4547902)
    I like this thing, but, as a professional DVD author, I have to warn you that not all encoders produce equal quality video streams.

    You only have to look as far as QuickTime's encoder. Yeah, it's a software encoder that works at 2X, but it does not produce anywhere near the quality most people want, especially at low bit rate.

    Of course, this could have hardware encoding, but the real quality, either software or hardware, comes from multiple passes. If this is recording to DVD in real time, it has no chance of doing VBR.

    On pass VBR is worse that CBR.

    So, I guess you could record, but only at VHS quality.
    • I know someone who has one of those - I saw it record dvd in realtime yesterday - seems cbr thou, as no matter what quality we set it to it only seemed to record 2 hrs of video to the dvd. Granted, we only read enough to set titles and make the thing record, but that's a 3 minute impression of the unit.
  • Well, it's no match for TiVo yet. I'd like to have some kind of TiVo-like service, at least as an option. I find the most useful aspect of TiVo is that it will autosearch for programs and construct a recording schedule based on a defined set of priorities. And having to entire the titles myself would be a real pain. Still, if the TiVo folks are smart, they are thinking about a DVD-recorder equipped version or DVD-recorder peripheral, because I expect that these things will ultimately take over as an archival medium.

    On the other hand it's a big step up from a VCR. The media is a bit pricey--the hours per disk they quote are of course for the lowest recording quality, which if my experience with TiVo is any guide, means horribly artifacted for anything other than talking heads. But I'm sure the blank disks will get cheaper in time.
    • Blank DVD-R disks are down to $1 ea for 2 hours of fairly high quality recording. I'd say the media costs are already as good as or better than tape.

      You can of course do all this with a PC today. But for a lot of people it really is worth a grand just to have a single "Rec" button rather than the 25 steps to do the same thing on a PC.

      Less flexible. But infinitely easier to use.
      • Blank DVD-R disks are down to $1 ea for 2 hours of fairly high quality recording. I'd say the media costs are already as good as or better than tape.

        The proper comparison for tape is of course to other erasable media. But you are right that they are comparable for archival purposes.

        I don't necessarily want my PC to have to be in the same room with my TV. I appreciate a cheap, self-contained dedicated box.

  • Although I haven't heard more than rumors, this sounds a lot like a PVR device that I would expect Apple to produce--down to the pricetag being 2.5x the competition ($400 for a TiVo vs. $1K for this.) Hm, lets' see: SuperDrive, FireWire. Figure that Apple throws in a better show finder than TiVo, and connects it to .Mac for either the same price as this, or maybe a little more. Watch for it 11/5.

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