Can Video Really Save the Hard Disk Industry?
Columnist David Morgenstern thinks new-wave personal video recorders can pull disk companies out of their doldrums. Some Storage Supersite readers take a different view.The march toward technological progress is seldom smooth, except for the occasional documentary on the History Channel. Hard disk manufacturers hope that the personal video recorder will bring a new era of prosperity as consumer video goes digital. Yet some Storage Supersite readers warn that these expectations could be a bit misplaced. As I pointed out in my recent column, industry analysts see a potentially enormous market for PVRs in the coach potato, in the many millions of units annually. However, until now, the current market has been slow to take offvery slow.
Some of you, doubt the whole proposition of the digital recorder, sticking with the inexpensive and familiar analog recording technology.
For example, my pet peeve is acousticalmost PVRs sound annoyingly loud, depending on the environment. Now, they seem fine when you listen to them on the floor of the electronics store. Thats because of the considerable ambient noiseeven in a "quiet" demonstration room. On the other hand, theres a different perceptual situation when the PVRs little hard disk records a movie in your bedroom at 3 oclock in the morning. It can make a high-pitched buzzone thats easily ignored when the machine sits in a multimedia center in the living room or home theater but not in your bedroom. I recognize that drive manufacturers have made a real effort during the past year to reduce the noise of bearings and actuators. In spite of that, no matter how quiet the drive, its still being placed in an acoustic-enhancing environmentan empty box, like a drum or guitar. Nevertheless, some PVR models are quieter than others, and Im sure they will continue to reduce the noise with additional acoustic shielding. To my ear, these complaintsmine includedsound like the market difficulties any new technology, especially a consumer product, faces during its infancy. According to the classic model, after filling the demand of early adopters, developers face a lull in salessometimes lasting yearsas the bugs are worked out and the market develops. Then the growth takes off like a rocket. Its all a question of when the countdown really begins. David Morgenstern is a longtime watcher of the storage industry as well as a veteran of the dotcom boom in the storage-rich fields of professional content creation and digital video.