Green with Envy over New Blu-ray Triple Disc Recorder

Why do the Japanese get all the good stuff first? Godzilla destroyed Tokyo (1954) a full 44 years before he was unleashed on New York (1998). (And the original was much better than the schlock Hollywood tried to foist on us as a "modern" version.) Not to mention they've got gobs more camera phones than we do. And now, Sharp - part of the global powerhouse of top-shelf consumer electronics companies plugging the Blu-ray Disc format - is introducing a new Blu-ray Disc recorder that includes a built-in hard drive and a standard DVD recorder. The new gizmo is claimed by Sharp to be the first high-definition recorder in the world to combine three recording disc drives.

The new model, the BD-HD100, is currently destined for the Japanese market. (Although $1,000 and a quick search on Orbitz.com will get you where you need to be to score one for your very own. Just make sure you know someone who can translate the owner's manual from Japanese to English. And don't expect to play prepackaged Blu-ray Disc movies when they're finally released because the BD-HD100 won't have that capability. Blu-ray Disc machines with that magical feature aren't expected to be seen until the latter part of 2005.) Sharp is said to be considering bringing the new triple player to the rest of the civilized world, but their top executives tend to get very quiet when asked to specify a time frame for such an expanded introduction.

The built-in hard drive has a capacity of 160 GB, enabling it to record approximately 19 hours of Hi-Vision (HDTV) from either Japanese terrestrial or digital broadcast satellite (BS) broadcasts thanks to an integrated terrestrial/BS/CS110-degree digital tuner. The hard drive recordings are claimed to have "exactly the same high-definition image quality as the original Hi-Vision picture." The BD-H100 will also record approximately three hours of HDTV programming directly onto 25 GB Blu-ray Discs.

The BD-HD100 is equipped with the "world's first" Twin Blu-ray Disc/DVD Tray that, in conjunction with the built-in hard drive, provides six directional recording combinations - including the ability to digitally dub five 4.7 GB DVDs (non-Macrovision encoded, we suppose) onto one 25 GB Blu-ray Disc via the hard drive. You could even choose to watch a standard DVD while recording an HDTV broadcast on a Blu-ray Disc. The BD-HD100 is also the first Blu-ray Disc recorder to feature an HDMI output. While able to play back virtually all CD and DVD disc variations, standard DVD recording is limited to DVD-R and DVD-RW discs.

Sharp intends to begin selling the new recorder in Japan on December 9th for about 320,000 yen. That's approximately $3,096.87 in US dollars at today's exchange rates. (But the way the dollar has been falling lately, you'd better grab yours as soon as you can.)

In a separate Blu-ray Disc-related announcement, computer maker and Blu-ray Disc format supporter HP said that it intends to introduce Blu-ray Disc technology in the last months of 2005 "in select media center PCs, desktop PCs, personal workstations and digital entertainment devices followed by notebooks in early 2006."

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