New DVRs from Samsung

The DVD format war needn't concern you if you pick up one of Samsung's new digital video recorders, due this fall.

The new machines—the DVD-R100, DVD-VR300 and the DVD-HR800—are each capable of supporting three different recording formats: DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, and DVD€“R, according to a recent announcement from Samsung Electronics America. The company claims to have developed its own multi-format technology that allows these new models "to be flexible in the face of competing recording formats."

All three models support the three most popular DVD recording formats, DVD-RAM, -RW, and €“R. Each optical disc formats has its own advantages and capabilities, and its own contingent of supporters among video fans. Samsung is seeking to minimize consumer confusion and frustration by making its new line of DVRs as universal as possible.

The slim-line $449.99 DVD-R100 is Samsung€™s entry-level model, and offers a "Time Shift" function on the DVD-RAM. Simultaneous recording and playback is available as well as live picture "pause and replay." The machine's "One-Touch" and timer recording options offer extra convenience. Sound quality is said to be improved through digital noise reduction techniques. The DVD-R100 also offers 480p progressive scan video output.

The $549.99 DVD-VR300 is a VHS-DVD combo device with the ability to record between digital disc and videotape media, letting consumers convert their VHS collections into disc media for easy playback as DVDs format. The machine also offers the option of recording straight from the television in either format as well as being able to record from VHS to DVD and vice versa in one easy-to-use machine.

The third new DVR in Samsung's lineup is the $649.99 DVD-HR800, with a120GB internal hard disk drive letting users record up to 160 hours of programming. In addition to progressive scan playback and a "super-slim (79mm) form factor," the DVD-HR800 has 6-in-2 Multi-Flash memory card slots and can playback JPEG and MP3 files from Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMedia Card, Secure Digital Card, Smart Media Card, Compact Flash Card and Micro Drive. It also incorporates Gemstar€™s Electronic Programming Guide (EPG), letting users easily select and record any program. All three units also support audio playback for an array of popular disc music formats, including CD, MP3 and CD-R/RW.

In addition, all three players can play back JPEG CDs and Picture CDs for on-screen viewing of digital photos. Front-panel audio-video inputs offer easy access for connecting external devices, such as camcorders, and all have analog and digital DV (FireWire) inputs accessible from the front panel. Samsung's new DVR will be available in the third quarter of 2004.