Panasonic launches Blu-ray/HDD/VHS combo

Blu-ray and VHS - together at last
Blu-ray and VHS - together at last

It's deja vu all over again, with another crazy tech combo out of Japan. Panasonic's new DMR-BR630V player combines the spankingest new 6x-speed recordable Blu-ray drive with the creakiest old VHS technology.

The VHS deck is, as far as our limited Japanese can make out, a play-only device for dubbing your old home movies to either Blu-ray or DVD disc, or the player's built-in 320GB hard drive.

The DMR-BR630V is a genuine High Def recorder, boasting MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 encoding at up to 12.9Mbps and 1080i HDMI output. It's available from October for around 160,000 Yen (£800). Although frankly, we're planning to wait for the HD-DVD/Betamax combo player rumoured to be following very shortly...

1TB storage

The second jaw-dropping Blu-ray recorder out from Panasonic in October is the DMR-BW930K. This 280,000 Yen (£1,400) beauty has no less than 1TB (1000GB) of hard drive storage available for your recording pleasure.

That equates to at least 90 hours of full bit-rate (24Mbps) HD telly, or an brain-melting 1,330 hours in the BW9030's extended play MPEG-2 mode. While 55 days of solid television might sound like a lot, to put it in context, it's roughly how much time was devoted in the Olympics to televising Michael Phelps warming up, punching the air and manfully weeping on the podium.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.