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Chip eases DVD recording

C-Cube's new chip allows consumers to capture video from analog or digital camcorders and record it to DVD-RAM disks.

C-Cube will introduce a chip that enables recordable DVD for consumers on Monday, the latest product release in the effort to bring DVD recording home.

DVxplore is the first chip that will allow consumers to capture video from analog or digital camcorders and record it to DVD-RAM disks, according to C-Cube. DVxplore also handles the playback of video and audio.

"This enables you to create video on a PC," said Chris Day, director of product marketing for C-Cube. "This chip will compress it down so you can store it on a CD-R, DVD-RAM, or incorporate it into email."

C-Cube counts PC makers Dell and Gateway among its existing customers, although the chip will also be available at retail stores in third-party add-in boards, priced at approximately $299, according to Day.

DVxplore will store video on a PC hard drive, CD drive, or DVD-RAM drive, and allows real-time editing and dual-stream MPEG-2 decoding, according to C-Cube.

"Not only will it play DVD, but it will record DVD programs," Day said. "It's the convergence of PCs and consumer electronics. There's a trend towards a consumer appliance."

Recordable DVD is expected to become fairly popular in the market as the drives become more widely available and the disks become compatible with existing non-recording DVD drives.

Panasonic, which just recently started shipping one of the first DVD-RAM drives with discs that can be read by DVD-ROM, estimates that over 9 million DVD-RAM drives will ship in 2000, a jump from the 200,000 shipping in 1998.

DVD-RAM drives, which retail for around $599 today, are also expected to drop in price to a more consumer-friendly level. C-Cube will charge $75 for Dvxplore, in volume to OEMS.

"We looked at the more expensive chips, and we simply removed the features that consumers wouldn't want like really high-quality broadcasting that are not applicable in the home," Day said.