Like swimmers in some Darwinian gene pool, DVD recorders are quickly mutating to fill every possible niche. Yet as they evolve, you can count on finding a core set of features in most decks - a TV tuner, a VCR-style timer, and a handful of recording "modes" that let you trade picture quality for playback time.
Hardly a week passes when we don't receive one or more letters from readers who seem to be in a panic about the difference between 1080i and 1080p HDTVs. All of their concerns arise from the desire, sometimes bordering on the obsessive, to get the best possible resolution from their sets.
Even as HDTV takes hold, there are people (including me) looking for the "next big thing" that will improve video's realism. My recent experience with InterVideo's popular WinDVD DVD-player program for PCs has shown me one of the possibilities.
During most of our recent tests of HDTVs, we've attempted to use them with a Scientific-Atlanta 8300HD cable box supplied by Time Warner connected via an all-digital HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) hookup. We often end up looking at a screen displaying an imperious message typical of cable-company communications: "Your HDTV does not support HDCP.
To the acclaim of filmmaking luminaries like George Lucas and James Cameron, the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) group has released Version 1.0 of its Digital Cinema System Specification, which details how a filmless, fully digital movie theater will work. Because the Hollywood studios formed DCI, the standard has their full blessing and stands a good chance of revolutionizing moviegoing.