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Pioneer adds TiVo to DVD recorders

The electronics maker is combining digital video recording capabilities to its line of DVD recorders in its latest attempt to jumpstart the DVR market.

Pioneer Electronics is hoping to raise the profile of digital video recording services by adding TiVo's service to its line of DVD recorders.

The Long Beach, Calif.-based electronics arm of Tokyo's Pioneer announced Wednesday two new DVD recorders that incorporate TiVo's digital video recorder (DVR) service. The devices will be available in the fall and will allow consumers to pause TV programs and schedule recording onto a hard drive as well as record shows onto DVD-R (DVD-recordable) and DVD-RW (DVD-rewritable) discs.

The drives are among the first from a major manufacturer to offer DVR- and DVD-recording capabilities and are expected to boost consumer interest in digital video recording. DVR services, though popular among subscribers, have not seen the success that many expected early on. Now, however, the service is beginning to catch on with consumers. DVD recorders are one of the more popular consumer electronics devices in the market, and as prices come down, demand is expected to grow.

Worldwide shipments of DVD recorders reached 1.5 million in 2002 and should increase to more than 11 million in 2005, according to research firm In-Stat/MDR. Shipments are expected to rise significantly as manufacturers begin to add DVR features to their products.

Pioneer's new DVR-810H DVD recorder comes with an 80GB drive and costs $1,199, while the DVR-57H has a 120GB drive and is priced at $1,800. Both will include the TiVo basic service, which does not require a monthly fee for the DVR service but does allow consumers to upgrade to the full TiVo service so they can access a 14-day program guide among other features. The devices come with a 181-channel cable TV tuner, and consumers will be able to transfer content on VCR tapes to DVD-R or DVD-RW discs by connecting a VCR via analog inputs to the recorder.

"At these prices, they aren't making a play for the mass market," said Greg Ireland, an analyst with research firm IDC. "However, this is an indication of a trend where DVR can be added to other products to distinguish one company's product from another's."

Pioneer rivals Toshiba and Sony Electronics also have licensed TiVo's service and technology and have been developing products that use the DVR service.

In related news, TiVo announced that carmaker Chrysler will air content promoting its new 2004 Crossfire vehicle on the TiVo service. Potential consumers will be able to request more information on the sports coupe and schedule a recording of five short films featuring the car. The content will be available on recorders using the TiVo service from July 8 to July 22.