Sony releases world-first AVCHD camcorders

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Sony has escalated its push to kick-start the consumer high definition camcorder segment with the world-exclusive launch of two AVCHD 1080i high definition camcorders at its Experience More trade show, broadening the company’s HD Handycam range to three models.

Sony’s expanded offering, which now includes a tape, DVD and hard disk drive model, will offer consumers greater choice in the emerging segment, which for the last two years has been populated by just one product.

The DVD-based HDR-UX1 (RRP $2,499) and hard drive-based HDR-SR1 (RRP $2,699) are the world’s first camcorders to use AVCHD high definition mpeg4/H2.64 video encoding technology, which was announced in Tokyo earlier this year as a joint-development between Sony and Panasonic.

“A clear shift is happening away from tape to non-linear media like hard disk and DVD, and it is happening right now. In Australia, around 50 per cent of the market is now non-tape, and this has reached 60 per cent in Japan,” said Sony Corporation general manager of personal video product planning – digital imaging group.

The AVCHD video codec was developed to enable high definition recording on non-tape media, and is twice as efficient as the mpeg4 codec used for DVD video.

Sony’s UX1 DVD model records up to 60 minutes of high definition video on a standard 8cm DVD, the same as those used in conventional DVD camcorders, while the SR1 HDD model incorporates a 30GB hard drive for up to 11 hours of high definition recording.

“The launch of these high definition models reflect two emerging trends,” said Sony Australia product manager – camcorders, Di Shepherd.

“The first gathering momentum is the high definition format. This is mainly due to the move towards HDTV as the next mainstream TV standard. The second is the rise of the disk-based camcorder, offering consumers a truly versatile medium.”

Although the UX1 uses standard DVD media, the discs will not play in normal DVD players. However, AVCHD compatible Blu-ray players will soon be avaiable and already many computers support high definition video editing.

Earlier this year, Panasonic announced its intentions to use the AVCHD format to create a range of compact SD card camcorders with high definition, but the brand has not released any product details.

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