Samsung Makes Retail DVR Play


Samsung Electronics America next week will take its first dip into the digital video recorder waters at retail, and through DirecTV Inc. The devices will not be used, though, in the vendor's upcoming DVR and home-networking trial with Comcast Corp.

Samsung's DVR product — available for sale Sept. 13 — records and stores up to 100 hours of programming. At a press conference here last week, the company claimed to be the first DVR vendor to bring out a terminal with 100-hour capability.

However, EchoStar Communications Corp. will also feature a 100-hour model, part of its upcoming DVR promotion.

Labeled SIR-S4120R, Samsung's digital set-top converter will be marketed to consumers by DirecTV and TiVo, and will have shelf space inside Best Buy and other U.S. consumer-electronics stores. At this point, there are no plans for cable operator participation in the rollout.

The effort is "totally separate" from the Comcast trial, which will test multiset content distribution as well as DVRs, said Frank Romeo, director of Samsung's digital set-top group.

That three- to six-month project, which was announced at the beginning of the summer, will involve 50 homes outside Philadelphia.

There, Samsung will provide a separate "home gateway" terminal, which Comcast will use in association with home/media-networking software from Ucentric Systems.

"Things are proceeding as scheduled," a Comcast spokeswoman said, without elaborating. Romeo did not give a new start date for the test.

Philadelphia-area trial participants will be able to control DVR use from one TV set and send the affected shows across multiple sets in the same home. Other functionality, such as the ability to download music videos and digital photos to the TV, may be attempted.

"We're not sure how the consumers will grasp this," Romeo said. "It adds another level of complexity to home viewing, and that's what we have to figure out."

Samsung plans to showcase more home-networking developments for cable during another New York event, scheduled for Sept. 16 during Diversity Week.

As for TiVo's own effort to become a cable vendor, "progress is being made," according to Ed Lichty, the company's senior vice president of business development. Operator discussions continue "and we're feeling good on them," he said.

Separately, Comcast is conducting a DVR test — without home-networking features — in Alexandria, Va.