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Forgive me if this is old news.


Mitsubishi Defends 1394 Position

Mar. 15, 2001

By Greg Tarr

Irvine, Calif. -- Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America (MDEA) said it will market this year its first fully integrated high-definition television sets, which will also be equipped with IEEE-1394 "FireWire" digital connectors for home networking capability.

Mitsubishi said it would ship this fall "several HDTVs" the FireWire digital interface high-speed serial bus circuitry supported with 5C/DTCP copy protection, and HAVi (Home Audio Video interoperability) control software.

Specific rollout dates, screen sizes and pricing will be announced at the company's nation dealer show in May.

According to a company statement: "IEEE 1394 high-speed serial bus, better known as FireWire, is quickly becoming the de-facto standard in the interconnection of digital devices. As the FCC designated connection method between digital television devices and digital cable set-top boxes, FireWire supports both high-performance digital audio/video products and computer devices as the United States migrates to DTV."

The announcement comes on the heels of a similar introduction by Sony, which also plans to market fully integrated HDTV sets incorporating the IEEE-1394 interface, and a day before a special House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing on the Digital Television (DTV) transition.

Bob Perry, Mitsubishi's marketing director, has been a vocal critic of a proposal from a handful of consumer electronics manufacturers and movie studios to support the Digital Video Interface (DVI) standard for transporting HDTV content between devices in the home. Unlike IEEE-1394, the DVI interface is not two-way (prohibiting networking), and uses uncompressed 19.4Mbps video streams that are too large to be utilized by conventional video recorders.

One of the companies proposing DVI - JVC - would capture digital signals in bit stream form on D-VHS cassettes before being decoded and shipped to HDTV sets and monitors on the DVI interface. The bit stream signals would then be decoded inside the recorder or attached set-top device into a format supported by DVI. Content producers would then have double protection against copying programming from copy management encryption and the absence of home-based recording devices capable of using the broadband signals.

Prior to announcing the new sets, Perry told TWICE that he worries that if the DVI standard makes its way to retail stores in early consumer devices, supporting content producers would attempt to prevent their material from being transported over IEEE-1394 networks. DVI input is not part of Mitsubishi's long-term product strategy because it is not networkable, controllable or recordable, he said.

"Devices that support the DVI interface are really encouraging the demise of `fair use' home recording rights, because the DVI signal is not recordable," a company statement read.

Instead, the recent actions of Mitsubishi and Sony appear to be priming the early market for IEEE-1394 technologies.

"We specifically rejected the DVI interface, because it is effectively a `monitor' connection that cannot be networked or recorded," he said. "Consumers should not lose their right to record as we transition to digital," Perry added.

"As the undisputed leader in digital television, we wanted to announce these products in advance of the National Dealer Line Show to ease concerns in the market, and in government, that consumer electronics companies are moving aggressively to integrate, full-featured HDTVs," added Max Wasinger, MDEA's sales and marketing VP.

Mitsubishi also reported it is in discussions with a number of consumer electronics companies to license Mitsubishi's Promise Module technology, which enables the upgradability of equipment to be compatible with HDTV receiver-decoders, IEEE 1394 networking, 5C copy protection and HAVi software.
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