Panasonic DMR-BR630V -- Blu-ray Meets VHS

No, that's not a typo. The new Panasonic DMR-BR630V is a Blu-ray/DVR system with recording capabilities. It can record to either the Blu-ray or the 320GB hard drive. If you want to go slightly retro, the disc recorder will also record to DVD.

But, here's the big news. It also has a VHS deck. You know, those analog video cassette players that used tape. Yup. Linear, stretchable, crinkle-able tape. What year is this?

Although this product is slated to be released only in Japan in October, it's actually easy to see why Panasonic's including a VHS deck. VHS was the de facto standard for home recording for years. People have stacks and stacks of tapes - filled with favorite TV episodes or irreplaceable home movies. A player such as this makes it quite easy to dump your tapes to Blu-ray. How convenient.

The DMR-BR630V has digital and analog TV tuners and an SD slot so you can transfer easily from your camera's memory card. Or, use the USB port. An on-screen programming guide makes it foolproof to schedule recordings. It also has an Ethernet port for network connections. There is support for 1080p video with xvColor and BD-Live. Can't decide which program to record? It can record two simultaneously.

Similar to what TiVo announced, you can remotely program the DMR-BR630V from either a computer or your cellphone.

The DMR-BR630V will sell only in Japan for about $1,400. It will be nice when VHS disappears forever, but at least this product lets you begin to let go of your dusty old collection of tapes. -Leslie Shapiro

Panasonic DMR-BR630V (Japanese)