World's First HD-Compatible Digital VCR Officially Launched

Last week, Panasonic Consumer Electronics announced the retail launch of its new digital VCR—or, as they call it, a D-VHS VCR. The new PV-HD1000 will begin shipping this month. It carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $999.95 and marks the first DTV-compatible VCR to hit the US market.

Panasonic says the PV-HD1000 adopts the "5C" Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP) technology to safeguard copy-protected material transmitted via the IEEE 1394 digital interface. Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, Ltd., along with other consumer-electronics manufacturers, developed the DTCP technology (see previous story).

Panasonic claims that the new D-VHS VCR can record all 18 ATSC formats when paired with a DTV set-top decoder, and it is also a full-featured, four-head, Hi-Fi stereo VHS VCR capable of recording and playing back standard (NTSC) VHS tapes. Using digital-compression technology, DTV broadcasters will be able to transmit multiple programs simultaneously if they choose, and Panasonic claims their new VCR will be able to record all these new "multicast" programs.

Digital recordings can be made on the recently developed D-VHS tapes, also available from Panasonic. The company says it is packaging a blank D-VHS tape with its new digital VCR.