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Sony Bows Its First DVD Camcorders

Sony formally unveiled its first DVD-based Handycam camcorders, while also introducing what it claimed is the smallest and lightest tape-based camcorder in the world, and its first single CCD 3-megapixel MiniDV camcorder at a press conference, here, last week.

The three MiniDVD camcorders, which were previewed at CES without pricing or release date, will hit store shelves in October. They write to 3-inch -R/-RW disks, which can store an hour of video at the standard resolution setting (and 20 minutes at the highest quality setting) on a single sided disk.

Sony will sell a 3-inch single-sided DVD-R disk for $8 and a single-sided DVD-RW for $12. Double sided –R disks will retail for $15 and double-sided –RW will sell for $23.

The top of the line DCR-DVD300 will retail for approximately $1,100 and features a 3.5-inch LCD screen, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar optics, a 1-megapixel CCD and USB2.0 connectivity, along with other core Sony Handycam features including an InfoLithium battery, still image capture, Super SteadyShot picture stabilization, and progressive shutter.

Stepping down is the DVD200 with a 2.5-inch LCD and 1-megapixel CCD for about $1000. Finally, the entry-level, $900 DVD100 will offer a 2.5-inch LCD.

Sony also introduced the DCR-IP1 MicroMV Handycam, hailing it as the world’s smallest and lightest tape-based camcorder in the world. It weighs in at 8 ounces and features Carl Zeiss optics, a 10x optical/120x digital zoom, 1-megapixel CCD, a 2-inch swivel LCD screen with hybrid touch panel and new 3-D menu system, still image capture and Sony’s Super SteadyShot.

The IP1 can capture video at 520 lines of horizontal resolution and is the first Sony camcorder to incorporate an automatic retractable lens cover that opens and closes when the camcorder is powered on or off. The IP1 will ship with the Handycam Station — a cradle that charges the battery and connects to a TV via S-video and A/V terminal and to the PC via USB 1.1 and IEEE-1394 (iLink).

The DCR-IP1 will ship in November for approximately $1,200.

The DCR-PC330 Handycam is the company’s first single CCD 3.31-megapixel MiniDV camcorder. It sports a Carl Zeiss lens and a new advanced primary color filter that Sony says reproduces colors closer to what the human eye perceives. The filter is not the new four-color filter the company announced for its digital still cameras, but a three-color one designed for camcorders. It features a 2.5-inch LCD screen with a hybrid touch panel for menu access, an intelligent pop-up flash, and Sony’s Hologram AF and NightFraming focus system for still pictures in dim-lighting. The PC330 accepts both Memory Stick and Memory Stick PRO media for saving still images or MPEG1 video clips with audio.

The PC330 will ship in October for a suggested $1,700.