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Camcorders Embrace Flash Memory

1/06/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
LAS VEGAS — At International CES, camcorder vendors will attempt to dazzle showgoers with a 2011 smorgasbord of largely flash-memory-based models with extensive 1080 HD image capture, new 3D recording and integrated projector capabilities.

While the overall camcorder market grew 36 percent in 2010, according to IDC, the growth was powered by pocket camcorders. Traditional camcorders unit shipments declined 14 percent vs. 2009 to 2.3 million units. The average selling price experienced a modest 2 percent decline to $440.

At the high end of the market, prices haven’t dropped as rapidly as manufacturers have added memory capacity and features to keep them steady, observed Ross Rubin, industry analysis director, The NPD Group. Instead, the low end of the traditional form factor camcorder is being cannibalized by pocket camcorders, whereas traditional models are being geared toward enthusiasts, he said.

The following are some of the hotter new offerings planned for the show: Canon will use its professional 2-megapixel HD CMOS PRO sensor in select high-end camcorders offering a 25 percent low-light improvement.

Using the sensor is the top-of-the-line Vixia HFG10, which features 32GB of internal flash memory and dual SDXC slots, 10x optical zoom lens with powered optical image stabilization (POIS) and a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD.

The HF-S30 features 32GB internal flash memory, dual SDXC card slots, 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD, color viewfinder, 10x optical zoom lens, POIS and an 8.6-megapixel CMOS sensor.

The HF-M41 offers 10x zoom, 32GBs of flash memory, dual SDXC slots, 10x zoom, POIS, 3-inch touchscreen, HD CMOS Pro sensor and Eye Fi wireless memory card compatibility.

The HF-M40 shares those but steps down to 16GB of onboard flash memory. The HF-M400 offers most of the same features but records directly to the SDXC slots.

The mid-range R-series includes the HF-R21, R20 and R200 models.

The highlight HF-R21 offers 32GB of internal memory with two card slots, a 28x advanced zoom lens, a 3.28-megapixel CMOS sensor, Eye-Fi compatibility and a 3-inch touchscreen display with touch-and-track face detection.

On the entry side, two new standard-definition camcorders are planned as well at prices to be announced.

DXG will update its stylish Luxe camcorder line by introducing a pistol-grip series and boosting recording resolutions to 1080p/30 fps. All Luxe models will offer a 3-inch touchscreen LCD, 5-megapixel sensors and SDHC card compatibility to 32GB. One model due in January will offer a 5x optical zoom before the others ($199 each) arrive in the third quarter.

Six lines available this month offer design themes, including Zanzibar, Maui, Ipanema, Monaco, Riviera and Classic. Each of those $149 Luxe editions comes with matching cases.

The QuickShots line includes the Twist 588V ($169), with a 3.5-inch swivel LCD, 1080p/30 fps video, 5-megapixel sensor, SDHC slot and HDMI output (cable included).

Also due in January is the QuickShot -5F3 ($119) 720p traditional grip model, and the 5B9V ($129) 1080p pistol grip model.

JVC will introduce 10 new HD Everio camcorders, one of which uses hard-drive storage while the others are flash-memory-based. The company will expand the number of Bluetooth-enabled camcorders from one to two. All models now offer image stabilization, Intelligent Auto mode, time-lapse recording and a “dynamic zoom” that boosts the optical zoom range without degrading video quality.

The GZ-HM30 ($229 suggested retail) will offer 720p video recording in the AVCHD Lite format, SDXC slot, 1.5-megapixel CMOS sensor, 2.7-inch LCD, 40x optical zoom lens, face detection and four color options. The GZ-HM50 ($269) adds 8GB of internal flash.

The $299 GZ-HM440 features 1080p/24 fps AVCHD recording two SDXC card slots, 40x optical zoom, face recognition, 2.7-inch touchscreen with touch autofocus and auto-exposure, face detection and high-fidelity audio playback.

The HM450 ($349) adds to that HM440 package 8GB of internal memory and a single SDXC card slot.

The GZ-HM650 ($399) offers 1080p AVCHD recording to 8GB of internal flash memory and an SDXC card slot, a 40x optical zoom, 2.7-inch touchscreen and a 3.3-megapixel, back-illuminated CMOS sensor. The GZ-HM670 ($499) adds 32GBs of flash memory, while the GZ-HM690 ($599) steps to 64GB. The lone 120GB hard-drive-enabled HM690 ($549) offers a 2.7-inch laser touch-control display.

The GZ-HM860 Bluetooth model will offer a smartphone app to let the phone act as a remote and to sync GPS data to video recordings. Video can also be transferred to iPhone and Android smartphones.

Panasonic is showing three standard-def camcorders in the SDR-H100, the SDR-T70 and the SDR-S70, all slated for March at pricing to be announced. The compact models feature a 78x Optical Zoom with a 33mm wide-angle and optical image stabilization.

The models are differentiated through media storage: All three feature SD/SDXC card slots, but the SDR-H100 also records onto an 80GB hard disk while the SDR-T70 has 4GB of built-in memory.

Samsung’s HMX Q10 features 1080/60i recording, a 10x optical zoom and a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. A “smart access” user interface creates “application- like” icons for the drag-and-drop menu.

The HMX-H300 also offers 1080/60i recording plus a 30x optical zoom with dual optical stabilization and a 3-inch touchscreen display. The SMX-F50 features a 52x optical zoom lens and the ability to add background music to videos on playback with automatic volume control.

Sony is showing a range of 11 new Handycams, including its first threee models with built-in Pico projectors. The Mobile Theater Handycams are capable projecting of up to 60-inch images on any surface.

Vivitar is featuring 13 models, five with a vertical “pocket cam” body design and the rest with a more conventional horizontal style, plus flip-out side-mounted LCD screens. Two of the pocket-cam versions include twistable screens, similar to those in the ViviCam line, enabling self-portrait composition and shooting from a variety of angles.

Among the highlights are the DVR 480 helmetmounted 720p sports video cam with SD card slot and the DVR 538HD with 1080p HD capture, a 2.4- inch display, SD slot and 4x digital.
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