Audio/Video Hard-Disk Technology Announced for HDTV Applications

Using hard-drive technology to store audio and video data has become a growth industry of late, with startups TiVo and Replay taking the lead (see previous articles). Consumer-electronics giant Sony has also gotten into the act with its announcement last December that it will team up with Western Digital to develop hard-disk-based products.

Last week, Matsushita Electric/Panasonic announced that it has completed development of consumer audio/video applications using the Audio/Video Hard Disk Drive (AVHDD), and it will soon begin to incorporate AVHDD into a number of Panasonic products to be introduced later this year. Matsushita Electric (MEI) says it is working with its subsidiary, Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics (MKE), and hard-disk manufacturer Quantum Corporation on AVHDD applications for consumer audio/video products.

According to the companies, AVHDD will be the first demonstration of Quantum's QuickView technology, which can record various HD formats and immediately access any recorded content. Panasonic says it expects the first product to be a home video-editing console, which will lead to other products that use AVHDD, including an HDTV receiver with pause, instant replay, "fast, noiseless searching," and extended-time recording of satellite and other broadcasts.

The companies envision that movies, music, games, and other types of entertainment and educational programs could be sent to consumers in the form of large, digital files, downloadable into digital set-top boxes from a variety of sources---including digital broadcasts and full-motion images from the Internet---and then stored on the set-top's hard disk.

Quantum says its QuickView digital-storage technology is based on hard-disk drives that can be installed in a set-top box, TV set, or digital VCR. With this aim in mind, MEI and MKE will incorporate AVHDD into Panasonic consumer-electronics products. Matsushita claims that the resulting devices will feature conventional PC-type hard-disk functions, such as rapid access and large memory capacity, in addition to multichannel read/write and sequential data transmission---characteristics vital to the realization of a new full-motion video-storage medium for next-generation digital home appliances.

Matsushita says it is proceeding with development of other new products that make full use of AVHDD's potential, including its extended-time recording and playback capabilities for satellite and other broadcasts, instant program search linked to an electronic program guide, and simultaneous record/playback.