DVD Recorder Update

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We haven’t looked in this field for while, so it’s time for an update:

In the past, we’ve felt that DVD recorders weren’t really going to take off until recorder that were:

  • capable of burning dual-layer DVDs and
  • able to burn them at a minimum 4X speed

    . . . became available.

    We’ve felt that way because current DVD recording involves more fidgeting, compromises and time spent than the average Joe Sixpack wants.

    Well, such recorders are now entering the marketplace, the Pioneer DVR-108 being one of the first. It’s already available for about $100. Such a device is capable of copying your typical movie in about 25 minutes.

    Is the rush on?

    A Big, A Medium and A Small Technical Issue

    Three technical issues cloud the DVD-R picture to varying degrees.

    The first, big problem is that dual-layer media is becoming available, but it is extremely expensive. The standard price is about $14 each. The lowest sale price I’ve seen one is about $10 each. By Christmas, at least one drive manufacturer is hoping to see $5 disks.

    Clearly, we’ll be lucky to see $1-2 media before late 2005, if then.

    The medium issue is relative speed. Dual-layer DVD recorders will get faster than 4X, expect 6X, then 8X, then 10X recorders through 2005.

    It should be noted, though, that 16X is going to be the maximum speed you’re going to see from a DVD recorder, whether single or dual (keep in mind that 16X DVD is the equivalent of well above 100X CD speed).

    The small issue will be the relatively short period of time before these products get superceded by the next generation of DVD recorders, those capable of recordering movie-lengths works in the HDTV format. Such devices will become available towards the end of next year.

    However, there will be competing standards, initial models will probably be very expensive, and it will probably take more than a little time for Hollywood to come out with HD-standard DVD movies, so obsolescence will be more theoretical than real for a few years.

    Speaking of Hollywood . . . .

    Rest assured that the prospect of cheap DVD-recorders bringing brainless movie copying to the masses will hardly bring joy to their hearts, and becoming the Grinch that Stole Christmas is a role they want. Their motto ought to be “Do it to them before they do it to us.”

    The former owners of 321 Studios can testify to that, they recently went out of business due to the legal efforts of the movie industry. Ironically, at least some of the money 321 Studios collected for its products will go to fund anti-piracy campaigns.

    This is an ironical age, but the possibility of certain users potentially helping to fund their own future apprehension is worthy of note. 🙂

    However, 321’s demise has hardly put a dent into DVD copying. It is not difficult to find a program that will break the CSS-encryption standard on DVDs, and it is even easier to find a program that will copy any DVDs thus broken. It does not appear the movie mavens have even started to go after any of those remaining.

    Hollywood would much rather have a much bigger legal stick.

    Will Congress Be INDUCEd?

    Many of you are aware of Senator Orrin Hatch’s latest proposed bill, which even we found to be too much.

    You may not be aware of who has signed on as cosponsors. Including Senator Hatch, four are Republicans, five are Democrats. Both the Republican Majority Leader and the Democratic Minority Leader in the Senate are cosponsors. So has the person who might well end up being President of the United States five years from now (well, at least she would like to be): Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    The bill doesn’t seem to be going anywhere at the moment, and there are no new hearings scheduled on the bill, but this issue isn’t going to go away, and the cheaper DVD DL media gets, the more pressure there will be from the likes of the MPAA.

    If not this year, then one of these days, some effort is going to made to address this copying problem, and if something like INDUCE is enacted, certainly any software decryptor is going to be sued to the wall, and any DVD recorder company will probably get sued by the MPAA just for the heck of it, too.

    The horse is probably out of the barn for CSS-encrypted DVDs; what the MPAA is probably going to focus on and lobby for is protection for any encryption standard for HD-DVD.

    The future of DVD recorders, especially HD-DVD recorders, will likely become more of a legal than technical issue.


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