Making good on a pledge made last October, Hitachi unveiled the first camcorder capable of recording directly to Blu-ray discs.
The Hitachi announcement formally confirmed an item on TWICE.com in Reporter's Notebook on July 23. Hitachi also announced a hybrid model, capable of recording HD video to both Blu-ray discs and a 30GB hard disc drive (HDD).
The models, due in October, will feature 5.3-megapixel CMOS sensors capable of recording 1920 by 1080i video to 8cm Blu-ray discs (which will be launched by Hitachi's sister company Maxell). They offer 10x optical zoom lenses, 4.3-megapixel still image capture to SD memory cards, HDMI
Individual frames can be isolated from the video as a still image and saved to memory cards.
In addition to HD video, the camcorder can also record standard definition MPEG2 video to standard DVD-R/-RW/RAM discs.
The disc-based DZBD70A, for a suggested $1,299, can store an hour's worth of HD video to a single sided mini Blu-ray disc (see p. 50), Hitachi said.
The hybrid DZBD7HA records to both Blu-ray disc and a 30GB hard drive. It will retail for a suggested $1499. According to Hitachi the hard drive can store up to four hours of HD video.
The unit features a dedicated button to burn the contents of the hard drive onto a Blu-ray disc. A transcoding feature lets users take HD video on the hard drive and burn standard definition DVDs directly in the camcorder.
While major camcorder vendors such as Sony and Panasonic have embraced the AVCHD format for recording HD video for playback on Blu-ray disc players, Hitachi believes true Blu-ray will be the dominate standard, said Jeff Fochtman, consumer group national sales and marketing manager. "Across all our product categories we're supporting Blu-ray and so this was a natural step," he said.
"The price points will keep Blu ray disc camcorders as a premium in the camcorder segment," he added.
True Blu-ray disc camcorders offer the benefit of full compatibility with all the Blu-ray disc players on the market, while AVCHD models only work with select players, Fochtman said.
That said, the Blu-ray camcorder launch "does not preclude Hitachi from investigating an AVCHD camcorder as another alternative in the near future," Fochtman said.