Panasonic Picks DivX

Last week, Panasonic announced plans to include DivX support in two DVD video recorders: the DMR-EH55S and the DMR-EH75VS. Both will have HDMI connectors, and are capable of up-converting output to a 1080i resolution signal. Both have hard disk drives, and have red laser DVD burners. The new recorders are expected to ship end of May or in June. The DMR-EH55S has a 200 GB hard drive and will sell for $500 or less.

It’s not clear yet whether you’ll be able to record using the DivX codec, and whether you can record HD content with it. If this turns out to be true, it would add another data point to my prediction that we may use DivX and other MPEG 4 variants to bypass the blue laser wars of HD DVD and Blu-ray entirely. The DMR-EH55S is priced about the same as Toshiba’s entry-level HD DVD player, and half the expected price of a Blu-ray recorder. It doesn’t seem like much of a contest, but we’ll see in a month or so when these become available.