The pocket VCR?

A Sacramento, Calif. company is preparing a January launch of a handheld unit the size of a Palm organizer. It will be able to hold up to 20 hours of television shows, home movies or other video clips. In essence, it would store and play movies just like Apple’s iPod stores and plays music.

The company, i-O Display Systems, said the device, to be shown at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Nev., will be called Riviera. When inserted into its cradle, Riviera is designed to record shows directly from a TV, VCR or DVD player. Using the same cradle, it will play those shows onto a television or on a computer via a USB cable.

The company, a manufacturer known for its 3D video glasses, hopes to position the Riviera as a portable alternative to personal digital video recorders. Competition is already due from Archos, who plans a TiVo-like device with a 3.8-inch display and an 80GB hard drive. The Riviera has a 20GB hard drive and no video display.

Unknown is how such video recording devices will function in the era of broadcast flag, designed to prevent copying and limit how video programming can be used. The FCC recently passed rules that allowed such technology. It seems certain the desire for portability of video viewing platforms will eventually clash with content owners fearful of the trading of their programming.

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