back to article Toshiba DVR dumps HD to HD DVD

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. …


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  1. Anonymous John

    But there's no cassette deck

    Oh yes, I remember cassettes from way back. They used magnetic tape, didn't they?

  2. Ross Fleming

    So... HD Freeview?

    Is this an HD Freeview box then? As a Londoner I'm rather interested to try and pick up a box that can pick up the BBCs HD trial...

  3. BigTim

    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?

  4. Dave

    MPEG2, living in the past aren't we...

    Really HD broadcasts should be MPEG4 in this day and age, MPEG2 has been around far too long.

    You cannot solve a problem by simply throwing more bandwidth/storage/people/money at it, if we were using MPEG4 for HD broadcasts we could have as many channels as we do now in the same bandwidth!

  5. Evil Graham

    BBC HD Freeview Trial Finished

    Unfortunately Ross, the trial finished on May 31 this year.

    Even worse, it seems that real Freeview HD is years away in the UK because of bandwidth limitations.

    As for the bandwidth which will be released by switching off analogue TV, Ofcom recently said that they would like to see this go up for commercial auction and the BBC has no "God given right" to use it.

    The Reg reported this, see:

  6. Ian Sneyd

    @Ross Fleming

    The evesham iPlayer is technically capable of receiving it but I can't vouch for it as I don't live anywhere near London.

    I got one end of line quite cheap as it's also a HD network player, it had some overheating issues which can be cured by standing on it's end (the vents are on the sides.

    It even has a topTV slot...and 80GB HD for recording, not sure what format HD broadcasts would be saved in as I can't receive any yet (and may never if they flog off the vacant airspace)

  7. Ross Fleming

    Never mind!

    Apparently the terrestrial freeview broadcasts have disappeared now anyway. Ho-hum...

  8. Graham Wood

    Not much use in the Uk at the moment...

    I believe the BBC trial is MPEG4 already, so this box isn't aimed at that market... From one of the PVR mailing lists I'm on (mythtv, in case anyone cares) I've got the impression that over the pond they use MPEG2 with quite high bitrates, and here for the BBC & Sky channels it's MPEG4 over the airwaves.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    HD quality video on a standard DVD?

    So what the fuck is the point of HD DVD / Blu-ray discs then?

  10. fluffy

    @ 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).

  11. Morely Dotes

    @ BigTim

    "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.

  12. Evil Graham

    MPEG4 Freeview

    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.

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