By Matthew Henry

GOLD COAST: Sony Australia has further committed itself to the budding high definition consumer camcorder segment, launching four new HD Handycams making its range the largest HD offering in the camcorder the market.

Sony has unveiled two HDV and two AVCHD high definition camcorders along with an updated range of standard definition DV, hard disk drive and DVD Handycams.

Sony’s Handycam range now comprises 20 models.

The launch comes just days after Panasonic announced its first range of camcorders using the new AVCHD video codec, which was co-developed between the two Japanese manufacturers to deliver high definition video in a space-efficient format.

Sony has previously released two AVCHD camcorders including the SR1 hard disk drive model, which will continue in the range for 2007.

Sony has vowed to lower the entry-price for a high definition camcorder this year and has already broken below the $2,000 price barrier with its entry-level HD Handycam priced at RRP $1,799.

The new range includes the HDV tape-based HDR-HC5 (RRP $1,899) and HDR-HC7 (RRP $2,299), and the DVD-based HDR-UX5 (RRP $1,799) and HDR-UX7 (RRP $2,199).

Sony considers HD Handycam as a key pillar in its vision for its electronics business moving into the next few years.

“2006 really did mark a transitional year for Sony – at a global level we saw some resounding product successes, notably Bravia, as well as some setbacks,” said Sony Australia deputy managing director, Carl Rose.

“But we here in Australia and around the world in the Sony camp believe that 2006 has made us stronger, albeit in perhaps a few different ways – through the champion products like our Bravia line of LCD TVs and our Alpha digital SLR, which were extremely well received and contributed to the global turnaround of our electronics business.

“More importantly for us today, we also saw camcorders become our most profitable electronics category, or division, while achieving the number one share or position in many countries around the world. It was also a year where we really ramped up our HD world.”

Sony’s key technologies for the new HD Handycam range includes its ClearVid CMOS imaging sensor and the new x.v.Colour system, which according to Sony captures approximately 1.8 times more colours than standard camcorders to deliver the most lifelike colour reproduction to date.

Sony stressed that it is the only company which participates in the entire high definition production chain, from professional and consumer image capture right through to display.

The company estimates that by 2008 high definition camcorders will account for 30 per cent of value in the camcorder category, and around 80 per cent of Australian homes will have a high definition display.