By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Sony will launch its first hard disk drive (HDD) camcorder to the Australian market in May and expand its DVD Handycam lineup after making the unexpected prediction that the two new formats will grow rapidly at the expense of MiniDV this year.

Sony’s new HDR-SR100 30GB HDD Handycam (RRP $1,799) will join an expanded range of five DVD Handycams as the company’s offering to the growing number of consumers abandoning MiniDV camcorders for easier to use technologies.

According to Sony, MiniDV market share peaked at 80 per cent but declined dramatically towards the end of 2005, and now sits at close to 55 per cent. At the same time DVD has increased market share to 25 per cent and newcomer HDD has jumped to 18 per cent.

Sony will reduce its MiniDV Handycam offering from six to three models and has already discontinued its Hi8 analogue camcorder range.

The HDR-SR100 will be pitted against JVC’s established Everio HDD camcorder range, but Sony expects features such as 45 minute operating battery life, 11 hours of standard video storage, 5.1 channel Dolby Digital sound recording and G-sensor hard disk protection will provide compelling benefits over competitor models.

Sony has also unveiled its third-generation 1080i high definition camcorder, the ultra-compact HDR-HC3, which at 26 per cent smaller than its predecessor is the world’s smallest HD camcorder.

“With overall improvements such as higher image quality, a smaller and more lightweight form and simpler functions, the HC3 will satisfy an even wider range of users,” said Sony product manager – Handycam, Di Shepherd.

“It will introduce beginners to the world of high definition capture and please even the most experienced camcorder enthusiasts.”

The HC3 will be available in May for RRP $2,299, and features true 16:9 recording, high quality 2.7-inch widescreen LCD and 4.0 megapixel stills.

Sony has produced 50 interactive demonstration stands for selected retailers around the country which will enable users to switch between a standard MiniDV camcorder and the high definition HC3 to see the difference in picture quality viewing on a Sony Bravia LCD. With four and a half times the picture resolution of a standard camcorder, the HC3 demonstration is expected to clearly demonstrate the picture quality of high definition recording.