Digital Cable High-Def Ready Recorders

Sony estimates that there are 10 million or so HDTV owners who are chomping at the bit to get access to digital cable high definition content. For those folks, and for people who'd simply like to record local, terrestrial HD broadcasts, Sony is introducing two new HD digital video recorders, the DHG-HDD250 and DHG-HDD500.

The new Digital Cable Ready (DCR) HD recorders "will provide access to encrypted high definition and standard-definition digital cable services when paired with a digital decoder device and a digital cable subscription." Analog cable services will also be available (with a cable subscription, of course), and the new components will include terrestrial ATSC and NTSC tuners for full access to and recording of non-subscription local HD and analog over-the-air broadcasts.

The DHG-HDD500 includes a whopping 500 GB of storage capacity which equates into as much as 400 hours of standard definition (SD) programming or approximately 60 hours of "maximum bit rate" high-definition entertainment. The less well endowed DHG-HDD250 incorporates a smaller 250 GB internal hard drive, so its recording capabilities are a mere 200 hours of SD or 30 hours of HD. (Previously, Sony's largest capacity HD digital video recorder, the DHG-HDD200, was rated at 250 hours of SD or 25 hours of HD.)

Both of the new models include the following features:

  • Typical digital video recorder features such as pause, rewind, and recording of live HD/SD/analog broadcasts - but with no recording subscription or rental fees. (Of course, you'll have to pay for the recorder itself, unless you can work out some other arrangement with your local Sony retailer; and then there's that pesky matter of monthly cable subscription fees to contend with.)
  • Free TV Guide On Screen interactive program guide with "easy program searching and automatic scheduled recording (where available)."
  • HDMI or Component (YPbPr) high-definition outputs.
  • Multiple standard-definition analog outputs allowing connection to non-HD recording devices (say, a DVD-recorder or - egads! - a VHS VCR) or an analog TV.
  • Multiple display formats and aspect ratio settings for use with a wide variety of Digital TVs.
Sony expects the DHG-HDD500 and DHG-HDD250 to be available this fall with MSRPs of $999 and $799, respectively.