No matter who ends up "winning," the Blu-Ray and HD DVD format war has probably entered its most dangerous period. For right when new formats are launched, you'll find advocates of one system or another putting forth unsubstantiated claims and various forms of quasi- and pseudo-science to back their side.
Photos by Tony Cordoza Anyone interested in an ultra easy-to-set-up home theater system usually has only one recourse: a system-in-a-box, comprising a combination DVD player and A/V receiver, five satellite speakers, and an optimistically designated "subwoofer." The weakest links in most of these systems are generally the speakers.
The players are in position, and the pieces are now on the board. But this is not a chess game, and the stakes are even higher than in the richest of Grand Master tournaments. This is the beginning of another video-recorder format war, but unlike the VHS vs. Beta conflict of the late 1970s and early '80s, there are three competing formats.
Less than a year after I reviewed Panasonic's DMR-E10 DVD-RAM recorder in the December 2000 issue, here I am reviewing a follow-up model that, as we've become accustomed in things electronic, has more useful features, equivalent or better performance, and a much smaller price tag - $1,500 instead of $4,000! The drop to a far more realistic price is tre mendous prog ress all by itself.
While you might want to start with a budget model if you're looking for your first DVD recorder, there are good reasons to explore the higher end of the price range. Up there, you'll find models that make it easier to do time-shift recording and that provide storage and editing options not found on starter units.
At a glance, you'd probably think that Panasonic's $1,000 DMR-HS2 looks pretty much like every other DVD recorder out there-including the Panasonic DMR-E30 that I reviewed just last month. But the DMR-HS2's chassis carries clues that something more is going on here.
A format war over a high-definition disc format now unfortunately appears inevitable. The all-but-formal declaration came at the Blu-ray press event on the first day of this year's Consumer Electronics Show (also see Rich Warren's article, "Next-Generation DVD").
Photos by Tony Cordoza Modern consumer electronics is so modular in design and construction that you could almost invent a new component category using the old Chinese-restaurant formula: choose one technology from column A and another from column B.