By James Wells

SYDNEY: Samsung has announced it will follow Japanese brands such as Sony, Hitachi, Canon and Panasonic into the DVD camcorder category with three models which feature high optical zoom functionality.

Samsung said it has made the move after the DVD format rose to take 40 per cent of the camcorder category globally last year and 20 per cent in the Australian market. Samsung expects the DVD camcorder to take one third of sales in Australia by the end of this year.

Samsung Australia product manager – digital video systems, Sagar Dave, believes this is future direction of this product category.

“This is where the camcorder is heading because that it what the end user is demanding,” Dave said.

The new DVD camcorders will complement Samsung’s existing range of tape-based MiniDV camcorders and the flash-memory based Miniket products, which have been re-branded Memory Cams.

“If you see the trend in mp3 land, hard drive was very strong. Strong transition to flash mp3 business, similar trends also in camcorders business will take some time. We have been ready for the market, when the rest of the market wasn’t ready.

According to Dave, the three new DVD camcorders – VP-DC163 (RRP $829), VP-DC165 (RRP $879) and the VP-DC565 (RRP $1099) needed a strong feature set to prove to consumers that Samsung was serious about the category.

“Yes, we understand we are late in the market. But we wanted to come out with a product that was very different and provide complete value to the end user. How do we do that? By offering benefits no one else can offer – one of the best optical zooms in the industry, double the recording time, 16:9 format on all models and memory card slot functionality.

“When a consumer goes into a store to buy a digital camcorder, one of the major criteria apart from the brand and pricing is the optical zoom. So we have 33x optical zoom, the closest is Panasonic which comes at 30x, while JVC and Hitachi in the range of 20x to 26x.

“The second key component is that we offer double the recording time as all of our DVD camcorders are capable of recoding to any dual layer 8cm DVD disc. While the standard camcorder offers 30 minutes, we are offering 60 minutes.

“We are also offering a four-in-one memory card slot as well  compatible with SD, MMC, MSPro and MS Standard.

“From the research we have done, when someone walks out to buy a camcorder, in the first three years, they generally want to press the red button and record, then watch it on their television. If your camcorder is able to perform these functions in an easy way – you are a winner.

“This gives a lot of options for the end user. For the basic ‘press button’ user, they want more slots, more recording time and better optical zoom.

“There are some products that cost $2,000 and offer 10,000 functions. But two thirds of users generally access just 10 functions. There is a pro-sumer market, but this is only 30 per cent of users. "

All Samsung DVD camcorders record and playback in 16:9 format – which Dave describes as another key advantage for consumers.

“If your camcorder is not compatible with the 16:9 format, I think you are wasting your money because of the adoption of widescreen televisions. If you have a 4:3 television now, you are going to replace it with a 16:9 format screen,” Dave said.

The Samsung DVD recorders are available via an open distribution policy through the brand’s key dealers – Retravision, Harvey Norman, Narta and The Good Guys.