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A variety of new capabilities will appear in 2010 camcorders, including built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, while vendors overall embrace flash memory as the predominant recording format.
The camcorder market enjoyed 7 percent growth from January through October 2009 vs. the same period in 2008, according to The NPD Group, although dollar volumes shrank 14 percent.
The market's growth has been powered by the rise in lower-cost, pocket camcorders, such as Pure Digital's Flip, said Chris Chute, research manager, IDC.
Inside the traditional camcorder market, the shift to HD is on. Nearly 45 percent of all units shipped last year were HD models, a figure Chute expects to hit 60 percent in 2010.
Canon will transition its entire 2010 camcorder lineup to flash memory, while retaining last year's Vixia HV40 HDV tape product. Twelve new models will be introduced, including nine HD and three SD camcorders.
The top-of-the-line Vixia HF S high-definition series will all feature dual SDHC card slots with relay recording. They will also feature a new image stabilization technology, dubbed Powered IS, that locks the lens at the telephoto end of zoom.
The series will also debut a new, 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD with a new Touch & Track feature. The camcorders will be compatible with Eye Fi wireless SDHC cards.
The $1,399 HF S21 offers 64GB of internal flash memory, a viewfinder, a 10x optical zoom, 1,920 by 1,080 recording at 24MBps and an 8-megapixel sensor. The HF S20 pares back the internal memory to 32GB and loses the viewfinder for $1,099, while the HF S200 records directly to SDHC cards for $999. They ship in April.
In the Vixia HF M-series, camcorders will include a single SDHC card slot, 24MBps HD recording, a 2.7-inch touchscreen LCD with Touch & Track and a 15x optical zoom lens with Powered IS. Models with internal memory will feature relay recording.
The HF M31 offers 32GB of internal memory for $799. The HF M30 will offer 8GB for $699 while the $679 M300 records directly to a memory card. They ship in April.
Due in March, a new Vixia R series of HD camcorders will feature a 20x optical zoom lens, 1,920 by 1,080 recording at 17MBps, a single card slot and 2.7-inch LCD screens. Models with internal memory will feature relay recording. The HF R11, for $699, features 32GB of internal memory. An 8GB HF R10 will retail for $549 and comes in three colors: black, red and white. The HF R100 records direct to card for $499.
Haier will enter the market with its first camcorders in the first quarter of the year. The DV-E58 records 1080p video and features a 3-inch touchscreen LCD display, a 5x optical zoom lens, image stabilization, HDMI output (cable included), a night mode and built-in special effects. It will retail for $189. The DV-508, for $109, captures 720p video with a fixed focal length lens. It offers MP3 playback and can double as a Web camera.
JVC's Everio models will offer a new version of image stabilization with improved performance at wider angles, as well as a time-lapse record feature that compresses long scenes in playback. An auto record starts recording when a subject enters the detection area, JVC said.
Among the introductions will be the company's first Bluetooth camcorder. The Everio GZ-HM550 can record audio from Bluetooth microphones, or have its zoom and record functions operated by a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. It can also send still images from the camcorder to a Bluetooth smartphone.
The HM550 also incorporates a new back-illuminated 10.6-megapixel CMOS sensor, 32GB of internal flash memory and 10x digital zoom and will retail for $799.
In standard definition, the GZ-MS110 records to SDHC cards and features a 35x optical zoom with image stabilization, time-lapse and auto recording features and a two-way grip for $229.
The MS230 builds off that by adding 8GB of flash memory, a 39x optical zoom, YouTube uploading, laser-touch LCD and an LED. It will be sold in black, red, blue for $279. At $369, the MS250 will build on the 230 with 32GB of internal flash memory. The $399 MG750 features an 80GB hard disk drive and a MicroSDHC card slot.
In HD camcorders, the HM300 will incorporate a new 1.37-megapixel HD CMOS sensor for 24MBps recording. It features a pair of SDHC card slots, a 20x optical zoom with image stabilizaton, time lapse and auto recording, face detection, a laser-touch LCD and YouTube uploading for $399. A version with 8GB of internal memory (HM320) will retail for $449. The HD500 features the same core specs but uses an 80GB hard drive with an SDHC card slot for $549.
The HD620 offers a 3.3-megapixel HD CMOS sensor, a 120GB with an SDHC card slot, 30x optical zoom lens, LED video light and iTunes exporting for $649.
RCA's Small Wonder lineup will broaden this year to include more traditional-styled video cameras, such as the 720p EZ500 and EZ5100 (1080p). Both feature a flip-out LCD screen, 3x optical zoom and record to SDHC memory cards. The EZ5100 adds face detection. All units are slated to be available at retail in first half of 2010. Pricing was not announced.
Sakar will ship several traditional camcorders under the Vivitar brand. The DVR910 features 720p HD video recording, 8-megapixel still photos, a 2.7-inch LCD, face detection, an 8x digital zoom and digital image stabilization. The DVR 920 adds a night vision mode and a slightly smaller LCD at 2.4 inches.
The DVR 960 is a 1080p camcorder with a 12x optical zoom lens, a 2.7-inch LCD, HDMI output and face detection.
The DVR 980 sports a 3-inch touchscreen LCD, a 10x optical zoom, 1,920 by 1080p recording. Face detection and image stabilization are also included. Pricing was not announced.
Samsung's flagship will be the HMX-S16, the company's first to offer built-in Wi-Fi for wirelessly viewing HD video on DLNA-compatible HDTVs and computers. The 1,920 by 1,080 camcorder features a 1/2-inch back-side illuminated CMOS image sensor, a 64GB solid-state flash-memory drive, a 3.5-inch touchscreen with a 3D GUI, and a new processor dubbed Victoria Engine with a 3D noise-reduction filter. There's also a 15x optical zoom with optical image stabilization, time lapse and super-slow-motion recording.
Sony will present a slate of camcoders for the 2010 lineup, including the HDR-CX550V, which records 1,920 by 1,080 HD video to 64GB of internal flash memory or a Memory Stick PRO Duo card. It features built-in GPS for geo-tagging images and video, 12-megapixel still photo capture, a 10x optical zoom with Optical Steady Shot, a 3.5-inch LCD, manual controls and 11 intelligent scene modes. It ships in March for $1,300.
The CX150V will also ship in March for $550. It features built-in GPS, 16GB of internal flash memory, 7-megapixel still photo shooting, a 25x optical zoom lens and a 2.7-inch touchscreen LCD. The CX150V will also feature face detection and a Face Touch function for prioritizing focus by touching a face on the LCD display.
North American Digital Television Sales Forecasts
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This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.