Although the Maxtor QuickView Expander hard drive will eventually make its way into the retail channel, the drive will initially be preformatted for use with satellite and cable set-top boxes, a Maxtor spokeswoman said. The company has not set pricing on the drive, which will hold 160-Gbytes, or enough for 160 hours of standard-definition recording.
The new QuickView Expander drive will ship this summer to set-top OEMs. The drive will connect to the set-top either via an external SATA connection or via USB-2. According to Maxtor spokeswoman Karen Clyne, an IEEE 1394 connection is being investigated.
Although storage vendors have yet to widely offer external SATA drives, the cabling standard supporting external SATA drives was recently approved.
While the PVR buzz grows, the technology has only slowly taken off, analysts said. While standalone PVR boxes, such as those designed by TiVo Inc., totaled about 545,000 units in 2003, according to researcher MDR/In-Stat Inc., the numbers increase when PVR-enabled set-top boxes are factored into the calculation. In 2004, for example, the firm expects 4.3 million satellite PVR boxes, 1.8 million cable set-top boxes, and 820,000 standalone PVR units to be shipped, for an installed base of about 6.9 million set-tops with PVR functionality.
"I think its a little bit beyond cult phenomenon status, but I wouldnt call it mainstream either," said Mike Paxton, an analyst with In-Stat/MDR in Phoenix, who added that consumers still arent aware of the benefits of PVR.
According to a survey of 944 North American households who didnt own a PVR, only 2 percent rated themselves "very familiar" with what a PVR does and an additional 4 percent said they were "familiar" with PVRs.
According to Paxton, the need for external PVR storage will only become critical once High-Definition PVRs become widely deployed. The DirecTV Group began shipping its TiVo-enhanced HD set-tops this past Friday, TiVo officials said.