Toshiba DVR dumps HD to
But there's no cassette deck
HD DVD backer Toshiba has unveiled a digital video recorder (DVR) that can archive HD broadcasts onto standard DVD discs.
The Vardia RD-A301 uses an HD transcoder to convert HD broadcasts from their native MPEG 2 format into MPEG 4 AVC. Toshiba claims its transcoder compresses the HD video enough for it to be burnt onto a 4.7GB DVD-R – whilst retaining the broadcast picture quality.
Toshiba's Vardia RD-A301: records HD broadcasts onto
HD DVD discs
Toshiba said that two hours of HD video could be recorded onto a single-layer DVD - a 15-minute job using the Vardia's 8x burner.
Unfortunately, because the likes of Sky have most HD broadcasts, including BBC content, tied to its own DVR devices, using the RD-A301 in the UK could be tricky.
However, the unit also includes a 300GB hard drive and supports playback of a range of HD DVD and DVD discs, including HD DVD-R and DVD-RW respectively. On the flipside, it’ll also record to HD DVD-R and DVD-RW discs.
The RD-A301’s single HDMI output port supports HD resolutions up to and including 1080i.
Its probably no coincidence that Toshiba’s also throwing in a free HD DVD copy of Transformers too, because the film’s distributor Paramount Home Entertainment recently hailed the movie as an HD DVD sales phenomenon.
The Vardia RD-A301 will be available in Japan from the middle of December, but a price hasn’t been released yet. Its not known if the device will appear in Europe.
Yes you are right, the BBC trial is MPEG4 HD, using a much more modern codec than MPEG2. You still can't quite fit full HD into the same space as existing Freeview though, or at least you can't if you want decent HD quality.
The problem is that the UK is paying the price for early adoption of DVB terrestrial TV. We launched the first real DVB-T system in the world in 1999 (remember OnDigital anyone?) and at that time there wasn't enough horsepower to decode MPEG4 in consumer devices.
Moore's Law being what it is, we can do it quite easily today - but we can hardly throw out everyone's existing equipment now. It will be hard enough as it is just getting the analogue signals switched off.
As you say, in the US and some parts of Asia they use ATSC, which is high bit rate MPEG2, but a lot of their stuff goes over cable, so there aren't the same spectrum issues.
In other parts of Europe where they haven't yet adopted DVB, a number of countries are going straight to MPEG4 because it's a much better choice if you are starting out now.
"This thing must be heavily compressing the HD to get 2 hours on a DVD the max bitrate on a DVD is something like 10Mbit (equating to an hour for single sided DVD)"
You must be thinking of uncompressed data. I routinely record standard-definition DVDs with 6 hours of playable content, plus menus.
@ AC "on a standard DVD"
This isn't HD on a standard video DVD, this is HD video in AVCHD format stored on DVD-ROM, which is rather different. You won't be able to play these DVDs on a regular DVD player, just on a DVD-data device which supports AVCHD (such as a PC or PlayStation 3 or whatever).
HD quality video on a standard DVD?
So what the fuck is the point of HD DVD / Blu-ray discs then?
No, it's not HD freeview
It picks up the completely different Japanese terrestrial mpeg2 HD broadcasts.
The London trial was h264 and ended months ago in any case.
This thing must be heavily compressing the HD to get 2 hours on a DVD the max bitrate on a DVD is something like 10Mbit (equating to an hour for single sided DVD) meaning this must be encoded at a rate of circa 5Mbit whereas the BBC HD channel on the freeview trial and on satellite used 18Mbit.
Pretty pointless squishing a good HD single up that much?