Not a month goes by without us getting an e-mail or two from consumers looking for a set-top Blu-ray recorder. "They're available in Europe and Asia," goes the common refrain. "When will they be coming here?" Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news: JVC has just announced two new Blu-ray set-top recorders for the North American market. The bad news? They're expensive models aimed squarely at professional videographers who are mastering their own HD discs (think wedding photographers and the like). They're not intended for home use and--because of their pro-targeted features--wouldn't really be useful for home recording anyway.
Don't blame JVC for the disappointment here. The reason that consumer Blu-ray recorders don't exist in the U.S. is that they'd be so jammed full of copy-protection schemes (to placate movie studios and TV networks) that they'd be all but unusable for recording TV shows anyway. Video professionals, however, may be interested in the capability to record and master Blu-ray Discs without the need for a PC.
The JVC SR-HD1250 offers an internal 250GB hard drive and a built-in disc burner that can record MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 (H.264) video content to BD-R or BD-RE discs--it can also downconvert HD content for burning to standard DVDs. The step-up SR-HD1500 doubles the size of the hard drive to 500GB, and adds an RS-232C port for external control and support for MOV files (for compatibility with Apple Final Cut Pro).
While the duo of recorders offer HDMI and component video output, the inputs are limited to standard-definition composite and S-Video connections, as well as FireWire, USB, and an SDHC slot. Noncopy protected DVDs and Blu-ray Discs can also be duplicated on the recorders.
Cementing the "professional-only" aspect of these products is the price. The JVC SR-HD1250 will be priced at $1,995 and the SR-HD1500 will cost $2,550 when they are released next month.