Panasonic and Sony launch AVCHD camcorders

By James Wells in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS: Panasonic and Sony both launched new high definition video camcorders at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week using the new AVCHD format, which was jointly-developed by the two companies.

At this year’s CES, Sony launched four AVCHD models in its range of 16 new Handycam camcorders using three different recording mechanisms – hard disc drive, DVD and DV tape.

The four AVCHD models include two disc-based recording models and two that use HDV tape.

“The top-of-the-line entries feature Sony’s Clear VID CMOS sensor and Optical Image Stabilization technology for outstanding performance under a variety of lighting conditions. These models also sport a new three-megapixel imager that enhances HD video, as well as still photography,” said Sony Electronics USA senior vice president – personal mobile and imaging division, Steve Haber.

“All of the HD models employ x.v.Color technology, which enables the color data range, known as s-RGB, to be expanded to more closely approximate what the human eye is able to see,” he said.

Haber said content captured with one of these camcorders and played back on an x.v.Color-compliant 70-inch Bravia television will appear more true-to-life than ever before.

Riding the wave of popularity of user-created content posted on internet sites, such as Sony’s Grouper, Haber introduced five new hard-disc drive camcorders starting at $600, with recording capacities ranging from 30 to 60GB, as well as advanced data protection systems and 40X optical zoom lenses.

He said Sony has quickly become the market share leader in the hard drive segment of this business in the United States with more than 60 percent of the market.

A new line of DVD standard definition camcorders for those seeking recording and playback simplicity was also on display, starting at under $500, along with some new Mini-DV models.

Panasonic’s new HDC-SD1 (RRP $US1,499) AVCHD camcorder records directly onto SD and SDHC flash memory cards and the company claims it is the world’s smallest and lightest 3CCD high definition video camcorder. With no moving parts, the SD1 is also said to be exceptionally resistant to impact.

The second Panasonic AVCHD camcorder, the HDC-DX1, records to 8cm DVD discs which can be played back in a Blu-ray player.

The HDC-SD1 can record one hour of high definition recording on a 4GB SDHC memory card, while the HDC-DX1 (RRP $US1,399) offers 40 minutes of high definition recording on a dual-layer DVD-R disc.

“We’re excited to introduce Panasonic’s first consumer high definition video camcorders,” said Panasonic USA national marketing manager, Rudy Vitti.

“We’ve implemented our black box technologies, such as our 3CCD camera system and Optical Image Stabilization to deliver the best image quality to consumers.”

These two new models also incorporate Panasonic’s revolutionary Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) that minimises the effect of movement during handheld recording.

The HDC-SD1 and HDC-DX1 feature the world’s first 5.1-channel surround sound system with five microphones. When recordings made with these models are played on a 5.1-channel home theater system, viewers are surrounded by a clear, detailed sound that makes them feel as if they are right in the middle of the action, according to the company.

A Zoom Mic function links the microphone’s action to the camera’s action. When zooming in on a subject in the distance, for example, the microphones also zoom in and record the sounds specific to that subject. 

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