Sharp Announces Tuner-less Blu-ray Recorder

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The ever-enterprising Sharp Corporation is aiming to undercut the market for Blu-ray next-generation DVD recorders. How? Reducing its costs by producing a Blu-ray recorder without a built-in television tuner.

Sharp is characterizing its BD-HP1 (Japanese) as a Blu-ray "player that can record," designed to meet lightweight, occasional recording needs of everyday television users rather than the high-volume, sophisticated needs of video enthusiasts and home theater buffs. To record television programing, the BD-HP1 is designed to connect to Sharp’s Aquos LCD televisions via an iLink/IEEE1394 connection and utilize the tuner built into the television. Sharp’s Aquos TVs can power on their tuners without turning on the entire set, so there’s no need to have a giant LCD display illuminating the neighborhood during recording.

Sharp says it hasn’t checked to see if the BD-HP1 can be used with iLink-enabled televisions from other manufacturers, and would only guarantee compatibility with Sharp TVs.

The BD-HP1 offers single-layer BD-RE recording, which offer enough capacity to store about six hours of standard definition television, three hours of high-definition broadcast TV, or about two hours of higher-bitrate high-def satellite television. By relying on a television’s built-in tuner, in many cases recording with the BD-HP1 means users won’t be able to watch one show while recording another; however, the BD-HP1 may have a future as a Blu-ray recorder used in conjunction with DVRs and hard-disk based video recording systems. The BD-HP1 offers HDMI, S-Video, Japanese D4, and composite video output, along with coax/optical digital audio output supporting supports 7.1 surround sound.

Sharp plans to launch the BD-HP1 in Japan on March 20 for ¥150,000 (about USD $1,250), which undercuts current prices for Blu-ray recorders from Matsushita and Sony. Sharp plans to roll out models like the BD-HP1 for international markets later in 2007, although there’s no word when Sharp will send something like the BD-HP1 to North America.

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