Sharp just announced three new Aquos products that are Blu-ray players with built-in high-def DVRs. Although these sound like fabulous new combo units, is this really all that great? The three models have different DVR storage capacities. The BD-HDW22 has a 250GB hard drive, the BD-HDW25 has 500GB, and the top-of-the-line BD-HDW30 player features a massive 1TB HDD. All three have Blu-ray players, and all have two digital tuners and one analog tuner. All three can record MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 in three different bit rates (4.8, 8, and 12Mbps) to allow flexibility in record time. They do not support AVCREC. Here's the rub.
None of the units will record from the built-in Blu-ray player to the DVR. They're completely separate, so no way to archive from one source to the other. Keeping a tight leash on video rights, there's no way to bypass or defeat this. According to Hollywood, thou shalt not copy Blu-ray. Ever. Thus spake Hollywood. Still, this might entice consumers to jump up to Blu-ray, so it's not all bad. Plus, for anyone who has to fight to bring in another piece of gear into the living room, combining a DVR and player into one chassis might be just what the interior decorator ordered.—Leslie Shapiro
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