LG Electronic introduces Microsoft supported PVR

By Davis Freeberg

While Bill Gates and Peter Moore were busy promoting the launch of the XBox 360 yesterday, it appears that Microsoft was also preparing for the launch of their latest PVR offering the LRM-519 by LG Electronics. According to BetaNews the product was launched this morning, although it does appear that some Best Buy stores may have jumped the gun on the offering.

This lastest DVR to hit the market appears to be priced at the high end of the spectrum. With a suggested retail price of $599, plus a $10 a month program guide fee, it may not end up being the TiVo killer that LG Electronics hopes it to be, but it does offer a lot of functionality including home media support, DVD burning capablities and the ablity to expand your hard drive without being a hacker or paying weaknees to upgrade your storage. From the BetaNews article

“The device includes a 160GB hard drive and will run on Windows Media Center Technologies. The DVD recorder will support a range of recording formats, including DVD+R, DVD-R and DVD+R Dual Layer discs. Users will also be able to expand the storage space of the unit by connecting external hard drives to the DVR’s 2 USB ports.”

Microsoft has been experimenting with their guide data on the foundation box, but this is the first time that a non MCE Microsoft PVR box has been available to consumers outside of Washington state. While I haven’t seen demonstrations of the Foundation box yet, there does appear to be video of this box in action at Microsoft’s Program guide page. Apparently the box uses the Microsoft Extender platform and could be a good alternative for consumers who want the convenience of an extender unit, but who don’t care to own an XBox 360. DVD Recorder Reviews offers a brief overview of the capabilities of the program guide.

“The Microsoft Program Guide service can search up to 14 days of programs by title, keyword, actor, director or category. Any scheduled recording can be configured to record only once or for an entire season of shows. There’s also up to 90 minutes of “live” TV pause, and even the ability to jump forward 30 seconds.”

Engadget was fortunate enough to demo and review the LRM-519 last September and Everything HDTV was lucky enough to get invited to the LG press event. The Nears provides a detailed analysis of the user manual for the box.

Update: Editor’s note: It’s going to be awfully hard to get excited about this thing without more detail. I can’t find any info on whether or not this unit will support HDTV recording or have more than one tuner. A single tuner non HDTV PVR would be pretty worthless to come to market with at this point. Especially if you have to pay $599 to buy it plus $10 per month for guide data. Seems like the new Vista MCE box and the new HDTV TiVo boxes with CableCARD support due out next year would make this unit pretty much irrelevant.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Dose this thing capture HD? I can’t find input/output info anywhere. WIll it stream Divx and send the output to a HD set via compound or DVI? The best buy sheet is really lacking in data though it dose list component out, but no other specifications.

    Personally I think if you have an MCE box and this is acting as extender that you should NOT need to buy guide data, you already have it on your MCE box, that is simple silly.

    For somthing that is released the infor is pretty sketchy.

  2. Larry McQ. says:

    Having just downloaded and read the manual from LG’s web site, a few things seem apparent:

    1) This is NOT an MCE extender, in any way, shape or form. It does not use the MCX/RDP interface to connect to an MCE PC. Since it was designed to stand on its own, it’s a more-or-less full-fledged OEM version of MCE that allows you to use Windows Media Connect to share media with other PCs/devices. In other words, when connected to your home network, it looks like an MCE-compatible portable device to your main MCE box and I suppose vice-versa. It allows you to copy content to another PC, and perhaps view content stored on another PC, but no remote video streaming a la MCX.

    2) While it does indeed have component video out, its specs specify 480i/p output but only 480i NTSC input. So unless I am missing something, no direct HD capture. The jury’s out on whether or not the thing can output (e.g.) a recorded HD dvr-ms file stored on your MCE box. Somehow I doubt that.

    3) The user’s guide does not specify one way or the other, but it is doubtful (to me, at least) that this thing has codecs for MP4/DivX/XviD installed on it and therefore it’s unlikely that it would be able to render video from other PCs that is in that format. Bummer. Perhaps LG will decide to offer support for that in future, although the potential for them to have to pay royalties might prevent that being a “free” update, if it’s offered at all.

    As the proud, if not exactly thrifty, owner of 4 networked MCE PCs and 2 MCE extenders, I am disappointed. It still seems like the XBox 360 is still the only “upgrade” available for the purpose of MCE extender technology.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s not HD and it does not have CableCARD. The box was first seen at CES and supposedly was going to be released much earlier… so perhaps a v2 will be HD and/or CableCARD (since MS got approval, as TH scooped here).

    A reader on my site made a very good point… if you can get a MCE computer for about the same price and a FREE subscription to Microsoft’s guide data why would anyone bother with this box? Of course having a pre-configured consumer device might appeal to a wider range of folks than a full-blown PC in the living room.

    -Dave Zatz