Digital Video for the Home: More Products from NAB

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show earlier this month featured all manner of professional high-tech toys, from HDTV cameras to the latest video-production devices. But among the broadcast-industry announcements, several products of interest to cutting-edge consumers were also presented.

Takeo Shuzui, president of Victor Company of Japan, Ltd., the parent company of JVC subsidiaries worldwide, announced that JVC is developing D-VHS HD-Mode (Digital VHS, High Definition) VCR technology for recording HDTV. This VCR is based on JVC's D-VHS technology and utilizes a VHS-sized recording cassette. JVC exhibited a prototype at NAB '98 that is currently in the final stages of development.

"Our D-VHS digital-recording format has been very successful, but it was only a first step toward ultimately delivering high-definition recording to consumers," states Shuzui. "Numerous parties throughout the industry have expressed serious interest in the high-definition recording capabilities of this format. JVC has succeeded in this development, and we are proud to reveal that standardization of the D-VHS HD recording mode is currently in the final stages, with details expected to be completed by mid-1998 for official announcement."

JVC's D-VHS HD-Mode units will be able to record all the proposed ATSC/DTV signals, including 1080i and 720p. The maximum bit rate will be 28 Mbps with a 3.5-hour maximum recording time, making it possible to record long feature-length motion pictures.

Last December, in cooperation with Echostar Communications Corporation, JVC introduced its first proprietary D-VHS bitstream recorder. The recorder is a single unit that includes an integrated receiver/decoder for the Echostar Dish Network, a direct-to-home satellite-programming delivery system. The recorder utilizes the D-VHS STD format and is MPEG-2/DVB-compliant. A single tape provides up to seven hours of storage---enough to record three standard-definition, full-length feature movies.

D-VHS is also capable of playing analog VHS tape libraries. According to JVC, existing factories can be easily re-tooled to manufacture recorders and tape, making the D-VHS solution very economical.

The development of D-VHS HD-Mode represents the next logical step as the recording method of choice for HDTV broadcast signals that will become standard within the next few years. At the press conference, the price was projected to be "somewhere around" $800.

Shuzui also announced that JVC's Hughes-JVC subsidiary has achieved an engineering breakthrough in high-definition projection technology: the Direct-drive Image Light Amplifier (D-ILA). According to JVC, D-ILA technology will "revolutionize the small-projector market, offering brightness, resolution, and picture quality previously available only in high-end theatrical or CRT-based projectors. With this new technology, JVC proves that it is possible to deliver the super brightness and high resolution previously found only in larger models of ILA-based light-valve projectors in an affordable, portable unit. This giant leap forward in performance, price, and portability sets new standards and paves the way for consumer HDTV projection."

"We believe to fully appreciate HDTV, it must be seen on a large, high-resolution screen," says Shuzui. "D-ILA is a key technology that makes possible an extremely bright, high-definition projector for home and business use."

The first product based on D-ILA technology, the portable DLA-G10 projector, weighs 31 pounds and pumps out 1000 ANSI lumens. The cost: $17,500. The first units are being delivered to the business market, while the consumer market is being evaluated for sales.

Also at NAB, JVC introduced a new 42-inch plasma display, the GD-V425PZW. The new flat-screen monitor is six inches thick, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The GD-V425PZW is now shipping in the US, with prices starting at $10,999.