After a slight delay, the Toshiba RD-A1 HD DVD burner is finally available in Japan. This is the first recorder for the format, which besides being the approximate size of an aircraft carrier also has a 1TB hard drive to save broadcast TV via either of its tuners. Once you've got it on the 1000GB HDD, you can burn it in MPEG-2 format to 15GB or 30GB HD DVD-Rs, which your good friends at Mitsubishi and Hitachi/Maxell will be more than happy to provide. If that sounds like too much work you could always stream the content to DLNA compatible equipment like your Qosmio laptop. Finally, this is the first standalone HD DVD player that plays back at full 1080p resolution. At 398,000 yen ($3,407 US, down from $3,466 due to the exchange rate), we'll have to wait and see if this fares well in burner-crazy Japan against Blu-ray recorders that have been on shelves there for several years now but slow to take off so far.


We don't know if this device or some variant will make an appearance stateside anytime soon, but HD DVD recordable PC drives should hit around September when media will be available. Lining up outside your local electronics shop is not advised, the odds of models invading the ranks of your local blue shirts are slim and none.