Coming Soon: DVD Recorders, DVD/VCR Combo
Sharp will integrate its semiconductor laser and video signal-processing technologies with Pioneer's DVD recording and playback technology to maximize the two companies' strengths. "We are aiming at integrating our technologies and efficiently developing digital products whose growth potential is substantial," said Magohiro Aramoto, vice president of Sharp. The partners will produce DVD-RW (rewritable) player-recorders priced at ¥100,000 ($934)—less than half the price of Pioneer's current DVD recorders. Estimated arrival date in retail stores is March 2002, according to a joint press release.
DVD players are among the most successful consumer-electronics devices ever marketed, and enjoy huge success in North America and in Europe. Japanese manufacturers have increased their output of DVD players to keep up with demand, and are now shifting their research and development efforts toward machines with recording capabilities. According to a Reuter's news analysis, the world market for DVD-RW could reach 10 million units annually by 2004.
The move by Sharp and Pioneer is a long-term play and will not have any immediate effect on their businesses, according to ING Baring Securities analyst Kazushige Hata. "The news of joint development by the two companies is positive, but it's unlikely to have a big immediate impact on their earnings," Hata said, mentioning that copyright-protection issues will continue to hinder the development of the DVD recorder market.
In related news, Sensory Science Corporation has announced the introduction of what it is calling "the world's first combination DVD and VCR." Designated the DVR-5000, the machine is aimed at home-theater fans who wish to minimize the number of components in their systems. The unit will play DVDs, audio and video CDs, and VHS tapes; users can watch a DVD while recording a TV program on tape. It also has RF inputs and outputs on the back panel, like most VCRs, allowing it to be connected to older television sets lacking separate video inputs. It also allows the dubbing of non–copy-protected DVDs to VHS tape at the touch of one button.
"We believe that the DVR-5000's ease of use and unique features will attract many potential DVD buyers, and we have filed for numerous patents on this product," said Roger Hackett, Sensory Science's chairman and CEO. "This combination product offers the perfect bridge between these two popular technologies, to offer a powerful home-theater experience. We're anticipating that the DVR-5000 will be one of the most successful products we've introduced to date. We've already received strong orders from retailers who recognize the convenience, affordability, and numerous benefits that this new DVD-VCR combination offers consumers."