Sony DCR-SR100 hard-disk camcorder with ECMHW1 wireless microphone
JVC may have started a trend with its Everio line of hard disk-based camcorders. Toshiba and Sony at CES on Wednesday announced models that banish the tapes and discs home video enthusiasts tote like Kleenex and equipped the cameras instead with internal hard drives.
Family gatherings are always a convenient excuse to pull out the camcorder and start shooting. If you thought your choice of weaponry was confined to the 10-year-old MiniDV tape format, guess again. You'd be ignoring two of the hottest trends of the last few years: hard-disk recording and high-definition TV. It's not your fault.
Not too long ago, if you wanted to record an HDTV program, you had to take a quaint step back in time and use a VCR - a digital VCR, but still a VCR. Today, there are a number of hard-disk options for recording HD, but if you want to save the program so it won't be accidentally erased from the hard drive, you have to resort to - you guessed it - a VCR.
On first glance, Slingbox looks more like a giant foil-wrapped candy bar than a piece of sophisticated electronics. But it's actually a new product that lets you watch TV from your cable box or digital video recorder (DVR) on any PC attached to your home network or, for that matter, any PC in the world with a broadband Internet connection.
About 73% of the country is watching cable TV these days. And as HDTV has caught on with this crowd, so have digital cable boxes that include TiVo-like hard-disk recorders for high-def programming. But these boxes, built almost exclusively by either Scientific-Atlanta or Motorola, have drawbacks: limited capacity, a less-than-elegant user interface, and, of course, a monthly lease.
Even before Apple's iPod changed the way we listen to music on the go, audio hard-disk recorders - also called music servers - were altering how we store and listen to music at home. When ReQuest Multimedia christened the category with its ARQ1 some five years ago, the promise of putting away all your CDs and having any song accessible by the push of a button seemed too good to be true.
What time-shifting was to the VCR generation, place-shifting is becoming to the home-network-enabled. Extending personal entertainment to every room in your home is the mission of SkipJam, a company whose main product is the iMedia Center, a box you can attach to multiple A/V components including your cable or satellite receiver, home theater receiver, DVD player, and TV.
A lot of people equate downloading with transferring songs from Apple's iTunes site to an iPod, thinking that's the end of the story. But online music files can have about as many uses around the house as your favorite three-in-one tool.