The end of VCRs, heralded by DVDs, draws nearer still with digital video recorders. Instead of storing video streams on magnetic tape, DVRs put up to 30 hours of it on to instant-access hard drives, letting you 'pause' a live programme, then resume without missing anything.
You can 'rewind' live programmes, instantly replay them, or run them in slo-mo. Automatic recordings of a whole season of 'Frasier' are possible.
Fewer than 100,000 DVRs have sold in the US so far, but 10 million would earn revenues of dollars 1 billion by 2004.
Pace, the British set-top box manufacturer, plans to put DVR technology into its machines, and US market leader General Instrument will do the same by year-end. WebTV devices already have DVR in them. The firm to watch, though, is TiVo of San Jose. Its 'personal video systems', made by Philips, register your viewing preferences and record what you might like to watch. Through a deal with BSkyB, TiVo will launch a souped-up DVR in UK shops this autumn.
James Woudhuysen firstname.lastname@example.org