Taking a Shot at TiVo and Replay

Last week, Matsushita Electric Industrial and Quantum Corporation's Hard Disk Drive Group announced that they have developed what they describe as the world's first audio/video hard-drive subsystem that records and plays back digital content with random-access digital video recording (DVR) functionality over IEEE1394 (aka FireWire).

Matsushita says that this 1394 A/V hard drive will be used for Panasonic consumer-electronics products that will begin shipping the second half of 2000. The company adds that Quantum's QuickView technologies, also used in TiVo and Replay's personal video recorder products, are designed for embedding in digital consumer electronics products ranging from television sets to cable and satellite set-top boxes and digital A/V recorders.

The companies say that when released, these products will support content protection based on encryption and authentication technologies such as IEEE1394 DTCP. According to a company statement, "content protection is of critical importance to the development and deployment of new business models within the entertainment and information industries. In this arena, Quantum and Matsushita Electric are making efforts to ensure that content-protected platforms are created to make these new business paradigms successful."

Matsushita Electric and Quantum emphasize that they have both focused considerable resources on 1394 development in an effort to turn hard drives into digital recorders without the need for conventional PC system architectures. Matsushita's Dr. Yoshitomi Nagaoka states that "the collaboration has produced a means of developing new, simplified, cost-effective A/V consumer-electronics products powered by advanced hard-drive technology. The IEEE1394 interface has been forecast as the most important interface for the next generation of digital home appliances. This integrated component will give manufacturers a platform to build on and will give consumers control over digital A/V content coming into their homes."

Mark Kirstein, a researcher for Cahners' In-Stat Group, adds that, "looking ahead, it is clear that 1394 technology will become the interface of choice among consumer-electronics manufacturers because of ease of use, performance, and flexibility. Hard-drive vendors who are positioning themselves as leaders in adopting this new interface technology are clearly headed in the right direction."