MADISON, Wis. The demise of the VCR has been hastened by the issuance of a "sunset" provision for "TV peripherals" by the Federal Communications Commission. Some chip makers see the mandate as an opportunity.
The FCC last month announced that it’s moving up the deadline on which “TV receiver devices such as VCRs and digital video recorders must include the capability to receive broadcast digital television signals” by three months to March 1, 2007.
The FCC’s digital TV mandate covers not only large, medium and small screen TV sets, but any peripherals that include a TV tuner.
Simply put, it mandates that all VCR manufacturers integrate into VCRs a costly digital TV reception capability that must comply to the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard.
Making a consumer device ATSC-compliant would cost system vendors about $10, which translates into $20 retail, according to Stu Lipoff, a partner at IP Action Partners (Newton, Mass.). "Twenty dollars is a big deal, considering that the average price for VCRs today, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, is $60.”
This is bad news for consumer electronics manufacturers. In order to meet the March 2007 FCC deadline, they must find a fast, cheap way to add a DTV reception capability to their devices.
On the other hand, the mandate could be a boon to semiconductor companies promoting DTV chips.
LSI Logic claims it’s ready to exploit the opportunity. LSI Logic is announcing Monday (Dec. 5) two new DVD recorder system processors compliant with the ATSC’s digital HDTV specifications. The new chips, called DMN-8633 and DMN8683, are designed to simultaneously decode and display HDTV content, while recording content onto a DVD. DMN-8633 is designed for a single drive DVD recorder, while DMN-8683 targets dual-drive systems featuring both a hard disk drive and DVD recorder.
Edward Silva, senior product marketing manager at LSI Logic, said the FCC’s accelerated deadline will "have a tremendous impact in hasting the speed of replacement of VCRs by DVD recorders."
For manufacturers of DVD recorders or other devices incorporating a TV tuner to address the FCC mandate, it’s not enough to add a digital tuner, an 8-VSB demodulator and a MPEG-2 decoder. Beyond such hardware, new DTV-ready peripherals must support several DTV protocol standards in software.