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DVD Recorders and Hard Disk Drives Becoming Common (March 25, 2004)

DVD recorders
DVD recorders are popular with consumers. (Jiji)
Flat-panel TV sets, digital cameras, and DVD recorders are the three must-have items in Japan these days, and sales of these electronic devices are booming. According to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, shipments of DVD recorders in Japan in 2003 were up more than 200% over the previous year to 1.96 million units, and an increase of 78.4% to 3.5 million units is forecast for 2004. Looking at the global market, a spokesperson for a major manufacturer of consumer electronics says, "The market will grow from thirteen million units in 2004 to between twenty-two and twenty-three million in 2005, exceeding the number of VCRs shipped." Looking closely at the high growth potential, manufacturers are turning their attention from common products to high-end goods, aiming to increase their share of this lucrative market.

Intense Competition
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. has shot out to the lead in terms of DIGA (a combination of the words digital and giga) DVD players, grabbing some 40% of this market. With Toshiba Corp. and Pioneer Corp., these three companies accounted for roughly 90% of the market during the latter half of 2003. Sony Corp., which was late to get into the market, released its Sugoroku machines in October 2003 and then released the PSX, which also includes the PlayStation 2 game console, at the end of the year. In addition to possessing functionality that makes use of the superconductors in the PS2 and its ability to connect with the Internet, the PSX also contains a hard disk drive with 160 gigabytes of memory, which can store up to 204 hours of video. At ¥79,800 ($725.45 at ¥110 to the dollar), this is about ¥40,000 ($363.63) cheaper than comparable models offered by other companies, and Sony has been rapidly expanding its share of this market.

What most companies are focusing on now is a type of DVD recorder equipped with a hard drive, allowing recording to be done in either DVD or HDD format. Using the HDD format, viewers can record and store massive amounts of TV programs, edit them, and burn their favorites onto high-quality DVDs. High-end models like Matsushita's DMR-E200H and Pioneer's DVR-710H-S feature hard drives with 160 gigabytes of memory. With an electronic program guide, viewers can select programs to record from a program schedule displayed on the TV screen, and if the user enters certain keywords, the EPG will search out programs that might be of interest and record them automatically. In addition, users can select programs to record over the Internet using either a personal computer or even their mobile phone. Models like Toshiba's RD-XS41, which features what is known as an iEPG (Internet EPG), let users enjoy an extremely detailed program guide via ADSL or any other dedicated line.

Fusion of Computers and Appliances
This rapid diffusion of DVD recorders is connected with the growing fusion of computers and household appliances; roughly 60% of all the computers in Japan that are sold for personal use come equipped with the ability to receive TV broadcasts. Computers like Sony's Vaio come equipped with a home-server function that allows the owner to take programs he or she has recorded on DVD or another format and view them over the Internet while on the go, via the wireless LAN hotspots that are becoming more common in cities around the world.

Home servers like Sharp Corp.'s Galileo allow users to watch TV programs over the Internet on their computer. Microsoft Corp., meanwhile, has released a new operating system that enables users to operate appliances connected with the computer using a centralized remote control. Video and music files in the computer can easily be played back or recorded over the Internet. If digital terrestrial broadcasting, which offers high-quality image and sound, continues to spread, the fusion of computers and digital household appliances may move to the next level in the field of entertainment.

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Related Web Sites
Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.
Toshiba Corp.
Pioneer Corp.
Sony Corp.
Sharp Corp.

Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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