Next month in Japan, Sharp will begin featuring what it says will be the first LCD HD sets with built-in Blu-ray Disc recorders. Sharp is saying the same units likely will be available in North America before the end of the holiday sales season in December, as well as in Western Europe by the first quarter of 2009.
Sharp's Blu-ray units (its DX-series) will come in several screens sizes ranging from 26 to 52 inches. In order to allow recording one channel in Blu-ray while viewing another one in real time, the new units will come with dual digital tuners.
The 1080p-capable recorders will support MPEG4 H.264/AVC—the latest digital encoding compression format that will allow more than five times as much Blu-ray content-capture as MPEG2. Subsequently, more than 10 hours of HD video can be recorded on a single 25GB disc. (The Blu-ray device also captures program-associated metadata content.)
The price points will signal to many consumers that they're buying more than an HD set: The larger of the new Sharp models will carry MSRP in the $3,900-$4,900 range.
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