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JVC, Panasonic, Sony Expand HD Video Camera Field

The AVCHD family grew by one member as JVC said last month that it would ship its first high-definition camcorders that use the Blu-ray-compatible codec.

Panasonic and Sony also added to their AVCHD lines.

JVC will ship its first high-definition Everio camcorders based on the AVCHD codec to dealers in August, including two models that record both MPEG-2 and AVCHD video.

The company introduced three hard-disk-drive-based HD camcorders in all. The new models record using x.v. Color technology and feature HDMI V1.3 connections that output a 1080p/60 fps signal to HDTVs.

The 120GB GZ-HD40 and 80GB GZ-HD30 feature a 2.8-inch wide-angle LCD and record 1,920 by 1,080 video in both the AVCHD and MPEG-2 codecs. The HD40, for $1,299, can store up to 50 hours of AVCHD video in EP mode and ships with a docking station. The HD30 will retail for $999.

The $799 HD10 features a 40GB HDD and records only in the AVCHD format at 1,440 by 1,080, with the ability to up-convert the video during playback to 1,920 by 1,080/60p via HDMI. It features a slightly smaller 2.7-inch LCD screen.

The three camcorders feature new CMOS sensors with a proprietary interpolation technology, JVC said. The company also improved its Gigabred processing engine, boosting its horizontal scan resolution by 20 percent vs. an earlier version, JVC said.

The new Everios offer a 0.08-second recording lag and a 0.6-second start-up time. They incorporate two new video-organizing features including Intelligent Grouping, which organizes video stored in the camcorder into groupings of up to 1,000 scenes. A related Digest Playback feature can automatically generate a video montage of scenes copied to a DVD.

The camcorders will be bundled with CyberLink PC software for editing, storing, playing back and authoring Blu-ray discs. The HD40/30 will include a Mac plug-in for using MPEG-2 video in iMovie HD 6 and Final Cut Pro 5/6 software.

The new models can also connect to the accessory JVC Share Stations.

Panasonic will ship its first HD camcorders with 3MOS technology to dealers this September.

The HDC-SD100 and HS100 are AVCHD models that record 1,920 by 1,080 video. According to Panasonic, the new models are based on the firm’s earlier 3CCD technology but instead use CMOS sensors, which, the company said, improve color reproduction.

The SD100 ($1,099) records only to SD cards and includes a 4GB card, while the HS100 ($1,299) offers a 60GB hard drive and an SD card slot for “hybrid” functionality.

Both models offer manual controls over zoom, focus, iris, shutter speed and white balance. Panasonic imported the Intelligent Auto mode — found on its digital cameras — into the new models as well. When in Intelligent Auto, the camcorders automatically activate optical image stabilization, face detection, intelligent contrast control and intelligence scene selection.

Other shared features include a 1.9-second start-up, digital cinema color mode, 5.1 channel audio recording through five microphones, and a prerecord function that saves up to 3 seconds of video to internal memory before the record button is pressed.

The camcorders will feature a new Leica Dicomer 12x optical zoom lens and a new HD Advanced Pure Color Engine image processor.

The optional VW-BN1 DVD burner lets both models burn HD footage to DVD disc in the original AVCHD format without a PC.

Sony will ship its first camcorder with smile shutter technology to dealers in August.

The $900 HDR-CX12 is a high definition (AVCHD) camcorder that records 1,920 by 1,080 video to Memory Stick PRO Duo memory cards. It will incorporate Sony’s Smile Shutter technology, which pauses the moment of still image capture until a subject is smiling. When activated, the CX12 will capture still images of smiling subjects while simultaneously recording video without the user having to press the photo button or switch the unit to photo mode.

The CX12 can record 10-megapixel still images in photo mode or between 5- or 7-megapixel shots in dual record mode, depending on the aspect ratio.

The camcorder also incorporates Sony’s child- and adult-prioritization mode, which works with Smile Shutter to identify children or adults in the frame and pause the moment of image capture until one or the other is smiling. The CX12 will include a 4GB Memory Stick and a Handycam Station cradle.