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Camcorders Look For Action, Wi-Fi

LAS VEGAS — Like the point-and-shoot camera category, the traditional camcorder category felt the pinch of video advances in all-in-one smartphone devices in 2012.

For 2013, manufacturers are looking to exploit their strengths in optics, sensors and combination pico projectors, while adding a new dimension in take anywhere point-of-view (POV) action cameras to preserve their edge.

“I think pico projectors are a major feature for 2012 and will continue to be so in 2013,” noted Chris Chute, IDC Research imaging analyst. “The POV cameras continue to post strong growth as the segment crosses-the-chasm, from extreme sports-enthusiast use to that of the more average active person.”

Chute pointed out that the market “seems to be splitting between lifestyle products like POV at lower price points ($400 and below), and FullHD prosumer models on the high end ($900-plus). That leaves a yawning gap once occupied by most of a healthy camcorder business, which had an ASP of around $600-$700 for years. The smartphone camera is mostly responsible for this bifurcation.”

To brace for the year ahead, Chute is recommending camcorder retail buyers adjust for an overall U.S. marketthat will shrink 11 percent to 7 million units, and a POV segment that will grow by more than 50 percent to close to 2 million units.

“For 2013, we expect the POV segment to increase in growth rate to close to 60 percent while the overall camcorder market will continue to shrink another 7 percent,” he warned.

Canon is introducing four VIXIA models at International CES, focusing on the entry and high-end segments. Gone from the line this year is the M series.

New entry R-series models include the R42 ($500), R40 ($400) and R400 ($300), all three of which will hit retail shelves in March.

The R-series models all feature DIGIC DV IV processing, 3-inch capacity toughpanel LCD screens, improved Wi-Fi connectivity, both AVCHD Progressive (28Mbps) and MP4 Progressive (35Mbps) compression formats, with dual recording of both formats to a card and the camera’s built-in memory. The R42 offers 32GB of internal memory, and the R40 features 8GB of memory.

The models all include 32x optical/53x digital zoom starting at 32mm,

The R42 and R40 both feature Wi-Fi and built-in memory. The R400 records to card memory only, and does not have Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi capability in the other two permits live streaming to a connected mobile for the first time, and works with a mobile uploader to send recordings to mobile sharing sites.

A remote browse feature allows a second mobile device to see all the recordings on the camcorder for playback or sharing.

At the high end, Canon is showing the new flagship G20 ($1,100), which will hit shelves in February at a $400 reduction from the launch price of the G10, which it is replacing. Features include and HD CMOS Pro sensor with a 20 percent boost in low-light performance, intelligent image stabilization, pre-record function, larger lens hood, 3.5- inch 922,000-dot LCD screen, and color electronic viewfinder.

Action video camera manufacturer Liquid Image travels to Las Vegas to mark an earnst launch of its point-of-view action cams in the U.S. market. The company will have an ample assortment of video cameras and mounts.

Among the highlights are the Apex HD+ Wi-Fi snow goggle camera, and the Mini Ego Wi-Fi action camera.

The Liquid Image Apex HD+ snow goggles ($399 suggested retail) features Full HD video recording, 12 megapixel still image capture and rapid advance still image shooting. Also included is a built-in Wi-Fi connection, which when used with a free app, will stream a live view to a connected device or act as a remote control to operate the camera.

The goggle contains a 135-degree wide-angle lens to capture all the action from the user’s point of view. The Apex HD+ features a rotating camera lens to dial in the best angle for skiing, boarding, sledding or snowmobiling.

The Ego ($179) is a Wi-Fi-equipped FullHD mountable camera, which like the Apex HD+ connects wirelessly with an Android or iOS smartphone, touchpad, or similar wireless device to stream a live view image to the device’s screen or to let it serve as a remote control.

The Ego has a 135-degree wide angle lens, 12-megapixel still camera, continuous shot mode, and FullHD 1080p/30 fps and 720p/60 fps video recording modes.

Panasonic will present seven camcorders that optimize high-quality video capture, including a new point-of-view (POV) wearable action cam in the A100. The tiny camcorder offers live POV broadcast capability in FullHD 1080 resolution, automatic tilt and video stabilization compensation, and “wearand- share” functionality in virtually any shooting situation.

The HX-WA3 also features live broadcast capability in FullHD, automatic tilt and image stabilization, and wear and share capability.

The V110 moves to the long-zoom video category offering a 38x zoom range, FullHD 1080i resolution, iFrame web mode compatibility and 8.9-megapixel photo capture.

The V210 offers virtually blur-less 38x optical zoom image stabilization, FullHD 1080/60p video resolution, extra long life battery and 10-megapixel photo capture.

The V520 jumps to a 50x optically stabilized zoom range on five axis and includes Wi-Fi tethering to a mobile device for remote control and Ustream file sharing, and built-in Creative Control effects.

The V720 features remote Wi-Fi mobile device tether with Ustream sharing, built-in Creative Control effects, and Level Shot automatic horizon- leveling image correction.

The X920 steps to a 3MOS backside illuminated image sensor for Ultrafine HD video quality, a bright Leica F1.5 12x Optical zoom lens, remote Wi-Fi mobile device tethering with Ustream sharing, and two-way remote home-monitor networking.

Polaroid by Sakar International will unveil new camcorders here this week, highlighted by the iD975 “video- in-video” model.

The iD975, which carries a $249 suggested retail, features a 3-inch gesture touchscreen, 16-megapixel sensor, FullHD 1080p video and a 10x optical zoom lens.

The iD975 will be joined by a range of recently announced camcorders, including the iD820, iD879, iD640 and iD450 models, which all made their debuts at IFA last summer.

Samsung is unveiling a pair of FullHD 1080p camcorders with integrated long-zoom capability.

Model QF30, which is slated to ship in the first quarter at $330, will offer FullHD 1080/60i resolution and a 40x digital zoom, Switch Grip II technology for left-or right-handed operation, intuitive touchscreen display, integrated Smart connectivity and Wi-Fi connectivity with support for new live streaming capability over UStream.

The feature can be used for live broadcasting or home monitoring functions.

Samsung’s even more affordable F90 ($220) 1080/60i camcorder will ship in the first quarter carrying a 52x optical/70x Intelli zoom, one-touch video sharing to YouTube, bright F1.8 lens and a 2.7-inch LCD.