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Sony Unveils '04 Tape-Based Camcorders

1/26/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Sony unveiled new tape-based digital and analog camcorders designed to expand the range of interest beyond families.

The focus of new models unveiled at CES, here, earlier this month is on building the customer base for tape-based products, even as it continues to promote recently launched DVD-based recording products.

Specifically, the company is stressing new styling designs and more advanced features to attract younger users, including more female videographers.

All models will "make taking, sharing and watching video easier and inspire owners to use the camcorders more often," Sony said.

The overall line has been redesigned to be more ergonomic, more casual in look and feel and more compact, offering about 25 percent less volume.

Emphasis has been placed on picture quality through megapixel technology and Carl Zeiss optics and ease of use with the additions of new software (Picture Package) and an "Easy Handycam Button" that streamlines the menu system to display only the necessary icons.

The bulk of the new models are offered in the digital miniDV tape format, with six SKUs slated for introduction.

Included in many new models is Sony's advanced NightShot Plus zero lux shooting mode, offering more natural color reproduction for recording in low or no light, and eliminating the green hue of prior NightShot models.

All 2004 Mini DV camcorders have a hybrid LCD that allows for increased visibility in challenging lighting situations such as bright sunlight.

The entry model DCR-HC20, which is slated to ship in February at a $500 expected retail price, features Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar optics, a 120x digital, 10x optical zoom, ultra compact styling, manual lens cover, and 2.5-inch hybrid SwivelScreen. Other elements include a black-and-white viewfinder, start/stop button on the LCD, Easy Handycam Operation, a new power switch and PicturePackage software with direct access to "Click to DVD/VCD" burning.

The step-up DCR-HC30, which will ship in February at a $600 retail, has all the features of the HC20, plus Memory Stick DUO Slot and a color viewfinder eyepiece.

The DCR-HC40, which ships in February at a $700 retail, has the same features as the HC30, plus a 1/6-inch 1-megapixel CCD imager.

The DCR-HC65, which ships in April at $800, steps up with a 3.5-inch hybrid SwivelScreen LCD monitor.

The DCR-PC109, which ship in April at $900, adds to that package a Handycam station, PC-style, upright design, and 2.5-inch Hybrid SwivelScreen LCD.

The DCR-HC85, which ships in April at a $1,000 expected street retail, has all of the features of the HC65 plus a 1/6-inch 2-Megapixel CCD, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* optics, 3.5-inch hybrid SwivelScreen, and smooth interval recording.

Sony will offer two Hi8 analog camcorders in 2004, starting with the CCD-TRV128, which will ship in February for about $270 expected selling price. It features a 2.5-inch SwivelScreen, built-in video light, 990x digital, 20x optical zoom, NightShot Plus and InfoLithium M series battery.

The step-up model, CCD-TRV328, is expected to have a $300 street price when it ships in February. It will carry the same features as the TRV128, plus SteadyShot picture stabilization.

In other digital camcorders, Sony will add two Digital 8 models, including the CCD-TRV260, which will ship in February at a $350. Key features include a 2.5-inch SwivelScreen, USB streaming capability, supplied PicturePackage software with direct access to "Click to DVD/VCD" burning, SteadyShot picture stabilization, LP recording mode, 990x digital, 20x optical zoom, NightShot Plus zero lux shooting, iLINK digital in/out port, and Easy Handycam feature pack.

The step-up D8 CCD-TRV460 will ship in February at a $450 street price. It has all of the features of the CCDTRV260 plus a touch-panel LCD monitor, Memory Stick slot, MPEG Movie EX functionality and remote control.