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Toshiba's RD-A1 standalone HD DVD burner: $3500

Richard Lawler, @Rjcc
June 22, 2006
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We've seen HD DVD-R and HD DVD-RW media announced repeatedly over the last few weeks, now we can see the -- huge -- box you can put it in. While standalone recorders aren't the biggest market here in the US, we've heard they are very much in demand in Japan and this should definitely satisfy. The RD-A1 will debut in Japan on July 14, for a cool 398,000 yen ($3466 US). Reuters reminds us that Sony has had Blu-ray recorders available in Japan since 2003, although at a starting price of 450,000 yen ($3916 US).

Interestingly, this device will output 1080p via HDMI, unlike Toshiba's HD-A1 and HD-XA1 HD DVD players. The RD-A1 also uses Toshiba's existing "RD Engine" hard disk drive recording system to record content from 1 analog and 1 digital tuner (simultaneous recording is supported) to the 1TB hard drive, edit to your liking, then burn to either a 15GB single-layer or 30GB dual-layer HD DVD-R (no -RW) disc. Interestingly, it does not support recording in newer codecs like VC-1 or MPEG-4, only MPEG-2. As early Blu-ray releases suggest, even a dual layer HD DVD may not have the space to provide ideal video quality, although there will be no PCM soundtrack to take up additional space. You can also stream content to DLNA equipped devices like Toshiba's Qosmio laptop. An undocumented feature is the ability to drop it on any small children or Wicked Witches of the East you want to get rid of , because the thing is enormous. No word on US availability yet.

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