JVC develops high-definition hard-disk camcorder

The GZ-HD7 offers a host of features and will be available in the U.S. in April 2007

Victor Co. of Japan Ltd. (JVC) will soon add to its Everio range of hard-disk drive camcorders with a model that can record high-definition (HD) video, it said Sunday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The GZ-HD7 can record a widescreen image at 1080i (1080 horizontal lines of resolution and interlaced), which is just below the 1080p (progressive scanning) system judged to be the highest of several video quality levels that fall within the high-definition bracket. It packs a 60G-byte hard-disk drive that holds five hours of video when captured at the highest of several recording modes. The camera records in the MPEG-2 format and capacity can be extended to around seven hours in "SP" mode by cutting down the vertical resolution.

Features include 3CCD (charge coupled device) image sensors, 10X optical zoom, optical image stabilization and USB (Universal Serial Bus), HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) and iLink interfaces. JVC said the USB is primarily for saving data, the HDMI for playback to a high-definition TV and the iLink for streaming. Conventional analog component, S-Video and composite outputs are also installed.

The GZ-HD7 will be available in April in the U.S. and cost around US$1,800. Details of availability in other countries was not announced.

An optional DVD burner will also be available at the same time. The Share Station can be used to archive high-definition video as data files playable on a computer. Conventional DVD Video doesn't support high definition so users won't be able to burn discs that can be played back at full quality in a DVD player. It will cost around $400.

Camcorder makers are quickly rolling out HD models as consumers around the world snap up HD television sets. Leading the charge are companies like Sony Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic) and Canon Inc., which have models based on a variety of formats including HDV tape and the new AVCHD format, that gets HD video onto a conventional DVD and other media like SD (Secure Digital) memory cards.

The new JVC camcorder will compete with all of these but perhaps its biggest competitor will be Panasonic's recently announced HDC-SD1. The camera, which debuted in Japan in December, records images onto an SD card. About 90 minutes of video can be stored on a 4G-byte memory card, according to Panasonic. It will be available in the U.S. in March and will cost around $1,400.

JVC will also use CES to unveil four new standard definition camcorders in the Everio family. New features include a partial delete function that allows a part of a file to be saved as a new file before the original is deleted, and a quick restart mode that allows recording to be started about one second after re-opening the LCD (liquid crystal display) screen. The cameras all have 30G-byte hard-disk drives and five shooting modes in addition to automatic.

The first of the four models, the GZ-MG130, will go on sale in January for around $500. Two others will be available in February and the final and most expensive model, the GZ-MG555, will hit store shelves in the U.S. in March for about $900.

CES runs Monday through Thursday.

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