Sony Announces HD and Hard Drive Camcorders

Sony has taken the wraps off two new consumer-oriented camcorder lines, one which records high-def video at 1080i resolutions, and another which records standard definition video at consumer-friendly prices.

The Sony HDR-UX1 and HDR-SR1 enable users to capture video at full 1080i resolution with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The UX1 model records to three-inch, double-layer mini DVDs discs, while the SR1 records to a built-in 30 GB hard disk. The UX1 can record up to an hour in long play mode on a single-sided DVD, while the hard disk edition may be better suited to situations where dealing with removable media isn’t practical, as it can handle up to 10 hours of video in long-play mode. Both cameras use Sony and Panasonic’s new AVCHD recording format based on MPEG-4/H.264 video codecs, feature and HDMI output for simple connection to most HD televisions along with manual focus rings sure to appeal to pro-sumers and aspiring videographers. Other features include a 3.5-inch swing-out LCD display, a 4 megapixel still image function, a dual mode which enables users to capture video and take 2.3 megapixel stills, and a Smooth Slow Record mode which shoots video in slow motion.

Sony says the HDR-UX1 will be available in September 2006 for an estimated price of $1,400; the HDR-SR1 will land on retailers’ shelves in October for an estimated price of $1,500.

But Sony’s not stopping there: the company has also unveiled three new Handycam models which record to built-in hard disks at standard-definition resolution. The new DCR-SR80, DCR-SR60, and DCR-SR40 offer long video recording times with 60 GB (DCR-SR80) and 30 GB (the SR60 and SR40), enabling up to 20 hours of video recording time in long-play mode, and up to seven hours in high-quality mode.

“With the explosive growth of Internet blogs and vlogs, people are capturing more video and sharing their recordings in new ways,” said Linda Vuolo, Sony Electronics’ director of marketing for camcorder products. “Our new hard disk drive camcorders’ simple connection to a PC will be beneficial for people who upload and share their videos online.”

All the new HandyCams connect to computers and other devices using USB 2.0, and all feature a One Touch DVD Burn which automatically burns video to a DVD using a PC. The cameras also sport HDD Smart Protection systems to guard against physical shocks and bumps which could cause data loss. The DCR-SR80 sports a 1 megapixel CCD, 60 GB of storage, a 2.7-inch swing-out LCD viewfinder, 12x optical zoom, a hot shoe (for attaching mics, lights, and other accessories; the DCR-SR60 is essentially the same, but with a 30 GB hard drive. The DCR-SR40 offers a 20x optical zoom, a 2.5inch swing-out LCD viewfinder with a 4:3 aspect ratio and touchscreen functionality. All models will be available in September; the DCR-SR80 will be priced at $800, the DC-SR60 will run $700, and the DCR-SR40 will cost $600.