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Hitachi Planning Blu-ray, Hybrid Camcorders

Hitachi plans to introduce a Blu-ray Disc camcorder and a hybrid HDD/DVD model in the U.S. market in 2007.

The firm is also considering a model in the AVCHD format or one with similar technology, according to product manager Jeff Fochtman.

According to Fochtman, Hitachi is studying whether to commit to a formerly licensed AVCHD camcorder or one that uses similar recording technology (the H.264 codec) but is not officially tied to a licensing body.

“We haven’t ruled ourselves out of any format,” he said

The firm announced its Blu-ray and “hybrid” aspirations at the CEATEC show in Japan earlier this month.

Hitachi’s high def camcorders will record in 1,080i, he said. The company is targeting a $1,500 price point for the Blu-ray camcorder and Fochtman said it will likely be slightly larger than a DVD-based competitor.

The AVCHD specification was developed by Panasonic and Sony as a means to bring 1,080i HD recording to market quickly before Blu Ray technology could be adequately downsized for consumer camcorders.

AVCHD video can be recorded onto standard 3-inch DVD discs and played back on Panasonic and Sony Blu-ray disc players and Sony’s forthcoming Playstation 3. Other companies, such as Samsung, Pioneer and Sharp, have announced support for the format as well.

In addition to DVDs, AVCHD supports recording HD video to flash memory cards and hard disc drives.

When Sony debuted its first HD camcorders based on the AVCHD specification, company representatives said a Blu-ray camcorder, while not impossible, was still technologically burdensome, especially when aiming for smaller form factors.

While Panasonic demonstrated AVCHD-based camcorders at the CEATEC show, Sony is the only manufacturer to currently offer AVCHD camcorders in the U.S.