News | July 8, 1999

Panasonic Launches World's First HD-Compatible Digital VCR in US Market

Secaucus, NJ-based Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. today announced the retail launch of its new digital VCR ("D-VHS VCR")—the world's first High Definition (HD) compatible VCR to hit the US market. Model PV-HD1000, which will begin shipping this month, carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $999.95.

The new Panasonic D-VHS VCR adopts the 5C Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP) technology to safeguard copy-protected material transmitted via IEEE 1394 digital interface connections. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (MEI), along with other four other consumer electronics manufacturers including Toshiba, Sony, Hitachi, and Intel, developed the DTCP technology.

The company says its PV-HD1000 is the first VCR in the world capable of accepting both High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) television signals. When paired with the Panasonic DTV-certified set-top decoder (model TU-DST50), the new VCR can record all 18 ATSC formats.

Sony officials announced this week that it has arranged with Victor Co. of Japan (JVC) to manufacture D-VHS VCRs under the Sony label. The players, designed to receive HD signals via satellite, will probably be introduced on the market in Japan later this year, according to Sony. The arrangement marks one of the first collaborations between the two former rivals—JVC developed the consumer VHS technology which trumped Sony's Beta format in the mid 1980's. JVC recently began marketing its own brand of D-VHS VCRs in Japan.

The new Panasonic D-VHS VCR will initially be available in the same markets where Panasonic is marketing its HDTV sets and decoders, according to Tom Hantson, national product manager, Consumer Video Products for Panasonic. The VCRs are only compatible with Panasonic DTV products and, while capable of receiving HD signals over the air, will only be capable of receiving NTSC (analog) signals through a cable box.

Programs can be digitally recorded on Panasonic's newly developed digital VHS (D-VHS) tape, model AY-DF300, which will retail for $14.95 apiece and record up to 2.5 hours in high speed mode. Panasonic is packaging a blank D-VHS tape with the PV-HD1OOO.

The D-VCR is expected to be popular with retailers eager to playback pre-recorded HD material for HDTV demonstrations on showroom floors.