While it used to be the only way you could record or view prerecorded movies in high-def, D-VHS has never really caught on. Part of the reason is that DVD's ease of use has made the drill of fast forwarding and rewinding a tape hopelessly quaint. But D-VHS decks offer a relatively easy way to create HD recordings that don't have to sit trapped on a hard drive.
D-VHS recorders have digital tuners that let you directly receive and record over-the-air HDTV programs. You can also connect the recorder's FireWire input to the FireWire outputs on some cable boxes so you can transfer the shows you really want to keep, while making room for new recordings on the cable box's hard drive. For the time being, this makes D-VHS the most practical way to build an unlimited collection of HDTV shows, but the onus is on you to tell your cable company that you want a box with FireWire output.
JVC, which invented the VHS format, is the leading manufacturer of D-VHS decks. (There are also models available from Mitsubishi and Marantz.) JVC's HM-DT100U ($1,500) records to a DF300 D-VHS cassette ($15), which holds about 32 GB of high-def material, good for about 5 hours of recording.
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