Sharp Shows New Blu-ray Disc Recorders

Sharp Corp. will soon launch several new Blu-ray Disc recorders in Japan, part of an effort by supporters of the format to take the lead over HD DVD during the holiday shopping season.

Sharp also said it plans to switch completely to Blu-ray Disc on all its domestic video recorders by 2011, the same year that Japan plans to halt analog TV broadcasting. The goal is less aggressive than that of Sony Corp., which has already said it will not produce any more DVD-based video recorders for the domestic market.

Sharp's BD-AV1 and BD-AV10 recorders will go on sale Oct. 27 and can record terrestrial and satellite high-definition TV. They also have an iLink (IEEE1394) input for connecting to a Sharp hard-disk recorder, so that TV shows can be moved from the disk drive to Blu-ray Disc. But there aren't any other inputs on the machines, so users can't connect a cable set-top box or other source such as a camcorder.

On Dec. 1, Sharp will follow up with more expensive models that have richer features. In addition to off-air broadcasting, the BD-HDW15 and HDW20 have video, S-video and audio inputs, and the iLink connector can be used to stream data from an HDV tape-based camcorder. The iLink connector won't support the AVCHD high-def camcorder format, however.

All the machines can record to BD-RE rewritable Blu-ray Discs, but the AV1 machine coming next month is limited to 25G-byte single-layer discs. Single-layer discs provide enough space for 3 hours of terrestrial digital TV. The other machines can record to dual-layer discs, so recording time per disc increases to 6 hours.

The HDW-series recorders can also write to write-once BD-R discs as well as DVD-RW/R and DVD-R DL. The HDW15 also offers 500G bytes of hard-disk recording space and the HDW20 offers 1T byte of space. The latter works out to 127 hours of terrestrial high-definition TV.

The AV1 recorder will cost about %100,000 (US$872), the AV10 will cost around %120,000, the HDW15 will be about %200,000 and the HDW20 will carry a price tag of around %300,000.

Sharp, which is a member of the core group supporting the Blu-ray Disc format, has set total monthly production at 30,000 units for the AV1 and AV10 recorders, and 10,000 units for the HDW recorders.

The company has no current plans to sell the recorders overseas.

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