Sharp is to launch the first LCD TVs with built-in Blu-ray Disc recorders. The sets will go on sale in Japan next month, and are expected to hit Europe in 2009.

The DX-series models will be available in 26- to 52in screen sizes and include dual digital tuners, so owners can watch one channel while recording another.

The Blu-ray Disc recorder embedded in the sets also supports the more efficient MPEG4 H.264/AVC digital encoding format, which means up to 5 times more video can be recorded on a standard Blu-ray Disc than with earlier models that support just the MPEG2 format. In the case of a 25GB disc almost 11 hours of high-definition (HD) TV can be recorded using the more efficient compression.

Additionally the system records associated metadata that is sent with the TV show.

Blu-ray Disc is slowly becoming popular in Japan thanks to the growing install base of PlayStation 3 (PS3) game consoles and expanding coverage of digital high-definition television. Most regions of Japan can now receive digital TV and most of the broadcasts are in HD, meaning a ready benefit to owners of HD recorders.

Prices for the TVs will range from ¥500,000 (£2,800) for the 52in set to ¥170,000 for the 26in model. That's a premium of just ¥10,000 to ¥20,000 (£55 to £110) on an equivalent Sharp LCD TV without a built-in recorder making them something of a bargain for consumers looking to buy both a new TV and Blu-ray Disc recorder.

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