Sharp will start selling next month in Japan the first LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions with built-in Blu-ray Disc recorders, it said Wednesday. The sets should be on sale in the US before the end of this year and launch in Europe in 2009.
The DX-series models will be available in 26- to 52-inch screen sizes and include dual digital tuners, so owners can watch one channel while recording another.
The Blu-ray Disc recorder embedded in the sets also supports the more efficient MPEG4 H.264/AVC digital encoding format, which means up to 5 times more video can be recorded on a standard Blu-ray Disc than with earlier models that support just the MPEG2 format. In the case of a 25G-byte disc almost 11 hours of high-definition (HD) TV can be recorded using the more efficient compression.
Additionally the system records associated metadata that is sent with the TV show.
Blu-ray Disc is slowly becoming popular in Japan thanks to the growing install base of PlayStation 3 game consoles and expanding coverage of digital high-definition television. Most regions of Japan can now receive digital TV and most of the broadcasts are in HD, meaning a ready benefit to owners of HD recorders.
Prices for the TVs will range from ¥500,000 (US$4,900) for the 52-inch set to ¥170,000 for the 26-inch set. That's a premium of just ¥10,000 to ¥20,000 on an equivalent Sharp LCD TV without a built-in recorder making them something of a bargain for consumers looking to buy both a new TV and Blu-ray Disc recorder.