Today's standard-resolution video cameras are under threat from the relentless march of high-definition consumer products, which began last year with Sony's HDR-HC1. Today in Tokyo, Panasonic Japan joined the fray with the world's first high-definition (1080i in this case) SD memory card camcorder, the HDC-SD1 .
The Y180,000 (£802) HDC-SD1 eschews tape by recording to an SD card in the new AVCHD high-definition format. AVCHD was developed to allow current-generation DVDs and memory cards to handle high-definition video, an important consideration in the absence of any Blu-ray or HD DVD cameras.
Panasonic's new flagship camcorder will go on sale next month in Japan, and early next year in the rest of the world. The price includes a 4GB SD card, which can hold up to 90 minutes of high-definition video at an encoding rate of 6Mbit/s. At the finest 13Mbit/s, that drops to a still-respectable 40 minutes. The SD1 is smaller than most current camcorders, weighing just 430g.
Second camera records HD TV to 8cm DVDs
At the same time, Panasonic announced a second AVCHD camera, the HDC-DX1, which records to 8cm recordable DVDs. The ¥160,000 (£711) DX1 peaks at 60 minutes of 6Mbit/s footage on a DVD-R dual-layer disc and weighs a very typical 680g.
Both cameras have three CCD sensors (one each for red, green and blue), a technique which generally provides superior colour reproduction. Most DVD players released from next year on will be able to handle video in the AVCHD format, although play-back and editing on a PC will require special decoding software.
As Sony is also supporting the format, it comes as no surprise that the upcoming PlayStation 3 will be able to decode AVCHD recordings.