Sony’s DVDirect – Transfer Home Movies Without a PC

What are you doing with all those digital tapes you’ve shot on your video camera? With many camera owners, chances are they’ll be in a drawer somewhere, unwatched an decaying – usually because attaching the camera to the television or hunting through a linear tape for the bit that you’re interested in is just too much effort – as is making copies of a tape to share.

Sony have recognised that home video archives really need the convenience of DVD, yet attaching cameras to PCs, capturing content and then editing it down to a disk is a far from simple job.

Enter the DVDirect – a US$300 (€243) external drive that can record DVDs straight from a digital or analogue source. Sony claim that the appliance is a world first and hopes that it will extend home DVD recording to a much wider range of consumers.

Available in November, DVDirect can burn up to 12 hours of high-quality MPEG-2 video onto a double-layer DVD+R – or up to six hours on single layer DVD+R/DVD+RW discs. It does this through a combination of built-in real-time video capturing and hardware MPEG-2 encoding. DVDirect sports a USB2.0 interface, and supports 16x burning – writing a full disk in around six minutes.

To simplify playback, the device can automatically insert chapter points at timed intervals – though extra features such as special effects or music require it to be connected to a PC. For this, a copy of Nero is provided.

“Preserving precious moments onto DVD has never been easier than with the DVDirect burner,” said Robert DeMoulin, marketing manager for branded storage products in Sony Electronics’ IT Products Division. “Users can simply connect their camcorder to the recorder, hit the record button, and out comes a DVD disc that they can pop into their home DVD player. Meanwhile, computer-savvy users can attach the DVDirect device to a PC to perform all of the common tasks characteristic of computer-attached burners.”

Sony talk DVDirect

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?