Any DVD recorder/HD combo with built in digital tuner?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by solaris9000, Jan 3, 2005.

  1. solaris9000

    solaris9000
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    Hello

    Is there any DVD/HD recorder out there that has a built in digital tuner?

    Thanks.
     
  2. eddyad

    eddyad
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    Not yet.
    Toshiba RDXS34 is currently expected to be the first around April, but could be later.
     
  3. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    AFAIK the Toshiba RDX34 is still on track for March release - at least it was when I was discussing it with the Toshiba UK a few weeks back. With HDMI, Freeview tuner complete with 7 day EPG, 250GB HDD, DVD-RAM/-RW/-R (inc DVD-RW VR mode) recording this looks like its going to be the DVD recorder to have. It'll be interesting to see what Panasonic and Pioneer do to counter this...
     
  4. sdc395

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    Toshiba UK didn't happen to mention an RRP, did they?
     
  5. JethroUK

    JethroUK
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    You can buy digital tuners (freeview) for £30 - you can even get Top-Up tuners for a bit more (no HD's have these fitted as std)
     
  6. Rasczak

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    But as none are integrated into a HDD/DVDR combi then that isn't that much use. As the Sony GXD500 has shown an all digital recording process makes a massive difference to the recored PQ. Which is what the issue is here.

    No - but I would expect it will be around £500. It is, after all, the RDXS32 replacement.
     
  7. eddyad

    eddyad
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    If ...
    a) I didn't already have a Freeview STB
    b) My VCR hadn't been in urgent need of replacement last September
    ... I'd still be waiting.

    The hassle of two timers or the restrictions of AutoStart/External Link (no RGB, can't use STB without recorder turning on) would make a wait for a few more months worthwhile.
     
  8. JethroUK

    JethroUK
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    I dont get the excitement of restrictions to an integral tuner:

    A/ There's absolutely no reason an integral tuner should perform better than an external one (just coz it did in the case of Sony & then it's prolly not been compared to external tuner)

    B/ What if you dont want freeview? What if you want totv? How many have sky tuners? (there's prolly 3 sky subscribers to every 1 freeviewer) how many have ntl tuners? how many have telewest tuner, etc etc

    C/ There's huge choice of external tuners
     
  9. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    You can't see why a simple, 2pass digital re-encode from DVB to DVD standard is better than a Digital > Analogue followed by RGB transmission through cabling to undergo Analogue > Digital conversion!?! You can't see the benefit of a internal tuner that enables you to git rid of red spot/interactive content without recording it!?! You can't see the benefit of integrated, freeview EPG!?!

    Fine - if you can't see the benefits then don't bother with them. The rest of us will jump on the high quality/full functionality bandwagon ;)

    As this whole topic is asking about Freeview recorders that statement is totally irrelevant. If you want Freeview an integrated digital tuner is the holy grail - not only for the better PQ but also for the ease of the national, freeview EPG. Have a play with the Sony GXD500 and you'll understand the massive advantages such an integrated tuner makes. If you want Top Up TV then you'll have to wait abit longer for a suitable, integrated DVD recorder.

    What's that got to do with the price of eggs? People generally want an integrated product for the reasons outlined in A and B above. Performance wise some of the best Freeview DVBs are from Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer anyway - and look who makes the major DVD recorders...
     
  10. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    Freeview and high quality????? Terrestrial digital is highly compressed for "quantity" not “quality", although we will get used to it because analogue transmissions are being degraded to match so that we will not notice so much when switch over time comes. Anyone else noticed the horrible digital artefacts that are creeping into analogue terrestrial? I was surprised at watching some old time-shifted material on S-VHS (pre-dated the move to digital), and marvelled at the wonderful picture quality compared to most transmissions we get now via analogue. Not to mention all the on-screen DOGs we will have to put up with as well as pop-up over-layed adverts and red interactive dots that are already becoming the norm on digital channels.

    The push to digital could be looked as a stealth tax , we have to pay out for digital set-top boxes that do not really improve on what we already have, while the government sells the analogue airspace to the highest bidder, then we pay higher amounts to use what ever services appear on the sold airwaves so the companies can recoup the high auction prices because of the frenzy the government encourages.

    Just because it is digital doesn't mean it is better, look at the sound quality of DAB for an example of that ;)

    Regards

    Philip
     
  11. Rasczak

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    It's better than Sky (at least on the BBC channels)! Given a decent digibox and screen the picture can be very watchable. I wouldn't go back to the five channel, all analogue days for anything!
     
  12. eddyad

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    I've had Freeview for a couple of years and it does have benefits over terrestrial:
    1. Better picture quality at least on mainstream channels (1 - 5)
    2. Decent selection of news alternatives all the time - BBC 24, Sky, ITV News when it comes back soon, and Sky sports.
    3. Widescreen more of the time than not. Virtually all new programmes are WS, and the black bars beside 4:3 pics on a WS TV get increasingly annoying.
    4. If you are into repeats of stuff like Maigret, Poirot and so on on ITV3
    5.Increasing amount of stuff worth watching on BBC4
    6. And I assume the the Freeview system is the base for the national switchover to digital in due course.

    The remaining question is whether Pay-TV, using TopUp TV system is likely to take off.
    If you want to protect against that the only route at present is a Freeview TUTV box with a hard disk.

    I guess the next 'big wait' will be DVD/HDD recorders with card slots for terrestrial Pay TV. I think a number of TVs already have them, or are adaptable
     
  13. GadgetObsessed

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    Rasczak - do you know of any future HDD/DVD recorders with digital tuners other than the Toshiba?

    Alternatively will any of the current Freeview PVR manufacturers (Thomson/Humax/Pace/etc) be adding DVD recorders to their boxes?

    Ideally I'd like something like the Thomson 4000 PVR with a DVD recorder, as it has twin tuners and a pretty good operating system.
     
  14. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Other than the fact the several companies are actively working on solutions I have no further info. It's a safe bet to say by Christmas we should have selection of machines.

    Unfortunately it's not as easy as just adding a DVD drive - substantially more R&D is required. Freeview uses MPEG2 in a DVB standard that is a system that broadcasts more data than is needed to compensate for lost packets during transmission. Whereas DVD uses a lossless data structure. Converting one to the other is what has caused the core delay getting DVB equipped DVDRs out of development - unless of course a company just adds an internal DVB with a DAC/ADC conversion. But that wouldn't be anything particularly better than we have now...

    I agree that twin tuners are certainly the way forward! Let's hope several companies implement it - Panasonic has twin analogue tuners in their E75 so lets hope they do the same in their new HDD/DVDR combi machines.
     
  15. eddyad

    eddyad
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    What about the Thomson and something like a Pioneer 220 DVD recorder?
    It's two boxes, but does give a 'best fit' with current products.
     
  16. eddyad

    eddyad
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    Do you know if that is what Sony have done with the RDR-GXD500? If so, I wonder why they didn't do the same with the RDR-HX900.
     
  17. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Yes - the Sony keeps it all the digital domain and the results are very impressive. When recording from Freeview in HQ (1hr), HSP (1.5hrs) or SP (2hr) the Sony blows away all other DVD recorders for PQ. For those interested I wrote a mini review on the GXD500.

    They were going to - the RX900 was planned for an analogue tuner, the HX1000 was planned with a digital one. However for some reason known only to Sony UK theyd decided not to go that route. Odds are they will correct that mistake next year although the GXD500 does need a little bit of tweaking first IMHO.
     
  18. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    I disagree. Converting one to the other is a matter of transcoding, no different to converting DV at 25 Mbits/sec to < 9.8Mbits/sec to a compliant DVD video stream. In fact, all Pioneer DVD recorders with Firewire already contain a pretty decent chip from NEC capable of doing just this, see http://www.necel.com/ieee1394/en/product/upd72893.html. This chip is used for transcoding DV to MPEG, but is also at home with DVB video streams for transcoding to MPEG. This chip isn’t new and isn’t expensive.

    The reason it hasn't been added as standard yet is there is no incentive for the manufacturers to do so. People are still buying DVD Recorders with what will be obsolete tuners in few years. Also leaving off the digital turner allows DVD Recorders to be sold at a key selling price. In a few years the manufacturers will cash in by selling us the same products again.

    Regards

    Philip
     
  19. eddyad

    eddyad
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    ... and again with Pay TV card slots
    ... and again with dual-layer DVD
    ... and again with HDTV
    ...
    (not necessarily in that order - but I wouldn't mind betting they are lined up somewhere)
     
  20. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    There has been a degree of indifference but not as much as you seem to think Philip. The Sony GXD500 has, in two months, become one of the best selling DVD recorders for the very reason it has a DVB tuner - this was widely predicted at Sony and, I'm sure, among the other consumer giants as well. In addition all the major producers embraced the open market Freeview box quickly enough following the collapse of OnDigital - the development of DVB tuners started soon after.

    DV is a lossless format, DVD is lossless format, DVB isn't - that is the difference. Philip - have a read of the Sony press releases on the GXD500 (you can find them on Electric Town) - and the difficulties were covered quite extensively in What Video a few months back as well. For contract/career reasons this is not a conversation I can have in any depth on a public forum. I do know though Pioneer are actively working on DVB recording - they are obviously unaware there DV system is already compatible ;)
     
  21. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    What?? DV and DVD are lossless formats, a new one to me:) I think you mean the data is continuous, i.e. not liable to disruptions in transmission as DVB is. Of course we all know that DV and DVD are lossey formats don't we, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about artefacts and lower quality at lower bit rates would we?

    There are no difficulties converting DVB to DVD MPEG, after all DVB is just MPEG2 what is the big deal it just needs repackaging and transoding for DVD, an easier job than converting DV with a much higher bit rate, and that has been doable for a long time now. If transmission breaks, then that is already handled by the DVB chips error correction. At worse all the DVD Recorder needs to do is detect the data stream from the DVB transmission has stopped and insert a blank screen, no different to how they cope now with VHS tapes that lose sync.

    Oh okay, fair enough, I get where you are coming from :)

    Regards

    Philip
     
  22. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    It goes without saying you know what I was referring to. I full accept that from a core technological perspective there are no difficulties converting DVB to DVD in software - home authored software has been doing it for ages - and if our set-top DVD recorders were all P4 2.0GHz 128MB PCs with nVidia hardware there wouldn't be an issue - but to build it into a cheap DVD recorder still requries either a dedicated or combo chip designed for that purpose. And this is where the R&D money has been going.
     
  23. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    This isn't the case when a chip already in Pioneer set-top recorders is able to transcode DVB MPEG streams to DVD compliant MPEG. Check the link and read the specifications for yourself.

    If the processing power is available to decode DVB in realtime to an 8-bit YUV videostream, which is what happens now in £30 Freeview decoders before it gets sent to a Digital to Analogue converter, and we already have set-top recorders that can transcode DV at 25 Mbits/per second to MPEG, or take an analogue signal and convert that to an 8-bit YUV videostream before sending it into an MPEG encoder all in real-time, then the processing power is already available for consumer electronics to take a DVB MPEG2 videostream and convert it to an MPEG DVD compliant video stream in real-time. How long have Panasonic recorders been able to decode and encode a DVD video stream at the same time for time-slip? And you are trying to make out that currently there isn’t enough processing power to convert MPEG2 video to MPEG2 video.

    I am not saying no R&D is involved, of course it is. Designing the user interfaces, firmware, electronic program guides etc to all work together with the DVD recorder side takes time and expense, testing and debugging firmware issues are also more involved and so costly. You have already said in you little Sony review how they have simplified things. Just the product returns alone from people unable to work the complicated things is a consideration.

    Manufacturing the recorders is also more expensive and the amount they could roll of the production lines is less than the analogue models due to the extra overheads of testing and manufacture. This is why we have the delay on digital tuners in DVD Recorders, not because it isn’t possible, but the fact that Pioneer, Panasonic and Sony are selling all the analogue tuner recorders they can make! There is no incentive to invest extra in R&D to produce a few thousand digital equipped DVD Recorders when they can produce and sell tens of thousands of analogue tuner equipped DVD recorders a month. Even though digital recorders will sell at a price premium it will take time to recoup the R&D and they sell lesser numbers, so they still make more money selling analogue ones as we are still buying them.

    Even at the minimum there is no need for any clever transcoding, why not just take the 8-bit YUV digital video stream output from the DVB decoder chip and pass that directly to the YUV 8-bit digital videostream input of the MPEG encoder? This is probably all the new Sony does now anyway, and needs no extra processing power.

    The fact we have little choice for digital tuner DVD Recorders has nothing to do with technical limitations at all, but perhaps that is what the industry would like us to think?

    There was an interesting article I read (in a newspaper, long since forgotten which or when unfortunately) about the state of the Governments push to digital TV, and the number of TV receiver products still being sold with analogue only tuners that would likely end up in a land fill site after a few years of purchase, and how the government should have introduced high tax levies or made it illegal to sell any TV receiver with an analogue only tuner years ago. The reason given (and I quite believe it) was it had been established that manufacturers still have little incentive to produce digital equipped receivers as the uneducated masses of the buying British public are still buying analogue receivers with no idea that what they buy now may only have a useable life of 1 or 2 years, due to the phased switch off of analogue TV from 2006 in some areas.

    The manufacturers will enjoy selling to us all over again, unfortunately for our pockets and the environment, this isn’t particularly good.

    Regards

    Philip
     
  24. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    Philip, the link is referring to a generic processor not a re-encoder, i.e. it can used for decoding DVB signals in a freeview box, it can be used for decoding DVD signals etc. Certainly when you compare the core clock speed and memory it is fairly clear it is a generic LSU. Compare that to the Sony which uses a dedicated 2pass re-encoder module designed specifically for the task. The same applies for all other all digital recorders I have seen - DVB to DVD re-encoding is done by dedicated processing units.

    I would like to comment further but, for reasons mentioned above, I am legally bound not to. Hence I am unable to continue particpation in this thread.
     
  25. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    Once decoded the 8-bit YUV video stream is simply fed into the already present MPEG encoders 8-bit YUV inputs, and MPEG encoding takes place. All still in the digital domain, using the encoder already present. All I am saying is there is no big technological barrier as you seem to make out for incorporating a Digital tuner into DVD Recoder.

    Sony can use all the marketing phrases it likes for its DVB to DVD transfer process, at the end of the day, as your little review suggests, the Sony's weak point is its MPEG encoder, so much for the 2 pass dedicated encoding process then!

    Of course. Like the whole process of connecting two chips together by an 8-bit YUV videostream bus in order to transfer DVB to the DVDs MPEG encoder is top secret information, lol :)

    Regards

    Philip
     
  26. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    If you read my mini-review you'll see that (for 2hrs and above) the Sony blows absolutely every thing else out the water!
     
  27. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    Considering that the DVB video stream data-rate is quite likely less than the rates used on DVD for 2 hours and above, there shouldn't really be any excuse for difference in quality when recording to DVD in a 2 hour or less recording mode!! So no congratulations to Sony on outstanding quality in modes 2 hour or less from me, and I am surprised that is something you have overlooked and not considered!

    When it actually comes down to re-encoding the DVB MPEG stream to less than its original rate, the Sony system struggles to produce such good results. Sounds like no clever transcoding is taking place at all, and all that we have is an 8-bit YUV bus between DVB decoder and MPEG encoder, which doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

    My point is, unlike you, I know there has been no technological barriers in incorporating a digital tuner inside a DVD recorder. The reason it hasn't happened is the manfacturers haven't need to do it in order to see DVD recorders sell and for them to make a profit. Even in this forum where we have in the main people up on the technology and that know that analogue days are numbered, how many are asking or insisting that the DVD recorder they buy has a digital tuner? This thread was started by one such person able to see further ahead than the next 12 months, but there are not many others.

    While we still buy obsolete equipment, the manufacturers will keep selling it.

    Regards

    Philip
     
  28. Rasczak

    Rasczak
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    :nono: There should be some good articles appearing in the magazines over the next few months to highlight precisely how wrong this statement is.
     
  29. JamesL

    JamesL
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    The issues of incorporating a digital freeview tuner in DVD recorders was briefly mentioned in the October issue of What Video & Widescreen TV magazine. In the November issue of the same magazine in an interview with Pioneer about there new 920 DVD recorder the UK rep even said that integrated Freeview solutions were "in development".

    I'm not entirely sure where Philip is coming from on this topic: he starts by saying that he thinks Freeview is low quality. He then says "there shouldn't really be any excuse for difference in quality when recording to DVD in a 2 hour or less recording mode". As an GXD500 owner (based on advice from Rasczak) I can confirm the PQ blows away recordings from other DVD recorders including Sony GX700 coupled with a Sony VU800X freeview digibox connected by RGB Scart and reference cables! Recordings that have gone the digital/analogue roundabout on other DVD recorders do look good - pictures on the all the digital GXD500 are outstanding. This was the point Rasczak correctly made in his review.
    Just an observation but I think PhilipL might be looking for an argument for the sake of it. :suicide:
     
  30. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    I am not looking for an argument.

    What I meant was that the DVB data rate for a given channel might be 6Mbits/sec, a DVD data rate in the one hour mode is around 9Mbits/sec. So in effect the DVD recorder doesn’t compress the DVB data but pads it. It will be padded for 9Mbits/sec so the user gets 1 hours worth on the DVD so they expect, otherwise things would be really confusing for the user. My point was, why should we applaud Sony for having excellent quality when recording DVB in 1 hour or 2 hour modes, when it doesn’t really have to work very hard?

    Now as per the miniature review when going to longer recording times, the quality isn’t so good, so that would seem as soon as the Sony has to start “proper” encoding, i.e. actually compressing further the DVB video stream to less than it is originally, the quality isn’t so good. It would seem then the Sony isn’t really doing anything special with the DVB signal at all.

    I have taken RGB signals from a DVD Player to a DVD recorder and found it virtually impossible (takes a one to one switch back and forth) to tell any difference when the data rate of the DVD recorder matches or exceeds the original data rate of DVD video. So for all we know the Sony could just be connecting the internal DVB tuner RGB out to the RGB in of the encoder over an internal link on the circuit board. This would still give some improvement over an external box connected by SCART lead as the analogue is only travelling a few centimetres of course using nice soldered connections.

    Rasczak was telling us that the reason we do not have integrated digital tuners in DVD recorders is because they have had to spent lots of time working out how to connect the two video streams together, my point is that this isn’t the case. At worse, if there was no market demand for analogue DVD recorders as everyone had the sense to question spending money on something with a finite life span, the manufacturers could simply have used an internal RGB link. Yes this does mean a digital to analogue conversion then back again, but this wouldn’t be noticed by anyone. How many people have TFT monitors connected by an analogue cable causing a digital to analogue conversion then back again on a signal with much higher bandwidth than an RGB video signal and still get perfect pixel-to-pixel mapping.

    Ironically your modern TV set will take a RGB or S-Video signal, digitalise it, pass it around as an 8-bit YUV video stream for various digital processing, then convert it back to analogue for the picture tube!!

    Still all video encoders and decoders use a standard 8-bit YUV digital video stream for interfacing to avoid an analogue to digital conversion when passing video around between chips and that includes DVB decoder chipsets and DVD recorder chipsets, so there has never been an issue keeping things in the digital domain for years!

    Yes there is R&D and an extra complexity to designing, testing and manufacturing a DVD Recorder with an integrated digital tuner but not for video interfacing reasons that Rasczak thinks, and I have no idea where he gets that information, and he has offered no explanation as to where these interfacing problems arise due to his non-disclosure agreement, make of that what you will.

    Regards

    Philip
     

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