Replay to bow digital recorder

Device offers control over b'casts

A Silicon Valley startup company plans to start selling a new digital television recorder that will provide viewers vastly greater powers of control over the process of both watching and recording TV programs.

Starting in November, Replay Networks will market its first product, ReplayTV. It’s a set-top device, similar in physical size and shape to a VCR, that will not only enable viewers to easily record programs, but will also provide VCR-like powers of pause, rewind and fast-forward to realtime broadcast programs.

Price is still not set, according to Replay, but will fall somewhere between $500 and $1,000, depending on the company’s marketing plans.

The Replay device uses a large-capacity disc drive storage system similar to those found in personal computers. Cable or satellite TV programming signals coming into the house are sent into the unit, where they’re compressed and recorded on the disc drive.

Software inside the device enables the user to easily select programs up to two weeks in the future to record on the disc drive for later viewing, as well as pause, fast-forward and review a program that they’re currently watching — and that’s still being recorded.

Users can also create customized “channels” with their own recorded program choices based on favorite shows, actors or subjects. The ReplayTV device uses a built-in telephone jack to connect to the company for regular updates to programming schedules.

In its standard operating mode, the unit plays back the television program at a better-than-videotape level of resolution.

The product will be available in various models, with storage capacity ranging from seven to 30 hours. Should users wish to save programs permanently, they can be recorded from the ReplayTV device to a VCR.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Replay will market the product directly and through home theater manufacturing partners.

“We created ReplayTV to improve the television experience in ways the VCR never could,” said Replay CEO Anthony Wood.

Another Silicon Valley company, TiVo, is expected to start marketing a digital television recorder sometime in the first quarter next year.

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