Toshiba has delayed the launch of the world's first HD-DVD recorder--but by only two weeks. Originally scheduled to release on July 14, the company has pushed back the availability of the RD-A1 to July 27. But don't go camp out at your local Best Buy or Circuit City--the RD-A1 is a Japan-only product for the time being, and Toshiba hasn't indicated when or if it will be coming stateside anytime soon. The device has the specs to leave high-def fan boys weeping--1080p video output, plus the ability to record HD video to the internal 1TB hard drive and archive dub it to single- or dual-layer HD-DVD discs--but it will cost Japanese consumers around $3,500 to take one home.
Interestingly, Blu-ray recorders such as the Panasonic DMR-E700BD have been available in Japan for some time. But thanks to the multiple layers of copy protection that have been added to the format to mollify Hollywood studios (AACS, ICT, BD+, BD-ROM Mark), those recorders can't play the any of Blu-ray movies that are finally beginning to appear on store shelves. (The Toshiba HD-DVD recorder--and, presumably, eventual Blu-ray recorders--will play store-bought high-def movies in their respective formats.)
The ability to archive your favorite TV shows in high-def is a great idea, but look for the Hollywood community to fight it with all its collective might. Whether it's as onerous as a copy-protection scheme (a broadcast flag that just prevents you from making a backup copy) or as subtle as the increasingly pervasive "pop-up ads" that are springing up on many cable channels (who wants to keep a copy of The Closer when an animated NASCAR ad takes up a quarter of the screen at 10-minute intervals?), TV networks will do everything in their power to make sure that viewers will pay one way or another. TV shows on DVD remain a huge cash cow, and Hollywood is looking to take that "monetization" of their broadcast assets to the next level--be it video on demand, downloadable and streaming online video, HD-DVD, Blu-ray, or any combination thereof. Needless to say, DIY box sets--home-burned and royalty-free--aren't on the agenda.