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Pioneer DVD recorders skip a beat

A DVD device from Pioneer is giving owners problems, but the consumer-electronics maker says that it has an upgrade available to fix the glitch.

A glitch in Pioneer's consumer DVD recorder prevents the players from functioning properly, but doesn't affect its ability to record discs, the company confirmed Tuesday.

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Pioneer spokeswoman Amy Friend declined to provide further details of the glitch affecting the $1,800 DVR-7000, but said the problem could be corrected with a simple upgrade.

"The problem is not likely to impact the vast majority of customers...it could affect the playing of discs, but it's unlikely," Friend said. "It's a software programming issue and is corrected with an upgrade that we're distributing to dealers so they can get it to their customers."

Industry analysts have been expecting recordable and rewritable DVD products to provide a significant lift to the consumer-electronics and computing markets, but competing formats and consumer confusion have held the market back. The falling prices of drives and discs are encouraging consumers to purchase the drives, but so far sales have not lived up to expectations.

Pioneer is not the only DVD recorder maker experiencing a glitch with its player. Philips' DVDR985 player cuts off the uppermost part of video when playing back progressive-scan output, according to a review of the product on CNET. An upgrade on a CD will be available upon customer request.

Calls to Philips were not immediately returned.

Pioneer has sold 50,000 players in Japan and 9,000 elsewhere, mostly in Europe and North America, according to Friend. Sony's RDR-A1 recorders, which were manufactured by Pioneer, are also affected by the glitch. So far, Sony has only sold the player in Japan and has not set a ship date for the United States.

Friend added that for consumers who purchase the drive after June 10, the glitch in the players will already be fixed.

Pioneer's DVR line of DVD-recordable drives for PCs should not be affected by the software glitch, according to Friend.

"This has nothing to do with the drive mechanism, it's the software, and that's different in the drive and the player."