February 21, 2006 3:08 PM PST

Sony unveils next HD camcorder for consumers

The high-definition camcorder, which was pretty space-age in 2005, will become more common over the next two years.

Sony showed off in Tokyo this week an HD camcorder that's lighter and smaller than the company's first consumer HD camcorder and, perhaps more importantly, costs less. The HDR-HC3 will sell for 160,000 yen, or $1,400, less than the $1,800 price tag on Sony's HD-HC1, its current HD camcorder for consumers.

Credit: Sony
A Sony employee holds up
the HDR-HC3 camcorder.

Japanese consumers will be able to buy the HDR-HC3 starting March 3. Although Sony did not specify a U.S. release date, the company typically follows through with U.S. versions anywhere from six to 12 months later.

So far, only a token number of HD camcorders have hit the market, and most of them cost $2,000 or more. But that will change over the course of 2006 and 2007. Prices are coming down, and more people have digital TVs that can play HD content.

Sanyo grabbed attention at the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with its Xacti HD1 camcorder. That product doesn't have nearly as many features as the other HD camcorders, but it costs around $800.

Panasonic, which already has a high-end HD camcorder, plans on coming out with an HD camcorder that will be about the same size or smaller than today's mini-DV cameras in 2007. These systems will likely sell for less than $1,000.

Silicon Valley start-up Ambarella, meanwhile, has come out with a chipset that will let manufacturers produce HD cameras for around $800. Cameras with Ambarella's chips could come out toward the middle of this year, according to Ambarella executives.

The Sony HDR-HC3 weighs 500 grams (a little over a pound), making it 26 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than the HDR-HC1. Like the current model, the new HDR-HC3 supports HDV1080i video.

The new camera will also support HMDI output, which means it can be connected directly to an HDTV, something the current camera doesn't do.

Along with shooting videos, the HDR-HC3 will take 4-megapixel still photos, similar to other hybrid cameras.

Although many camera manufacturers are moving toward hard drives and flash memory, Sony's new camera relies on mini-DV tape.

Hayashi Sakawa of CNET Japan reported from Tokyo. CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos reported from San Francisco.

See more CNET content tagged:
HD camcorder, camcorder, Tokyo, Sony Corp., camera


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sony+rootkits=me boycott all their products.
Posted by duke12aw (24 comments )
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no mic input though
That seems to be the biggest negative of it... :-P
Posted by kenyee (147 comments )
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sorry but after the rootkit fiasco, Sony no longer gets my $$$
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
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Hmm, the proprietary software that comes with SONY camera's is not that great either, and it looks to me by holding onto last generation DV tape also ties the end user to many time limitations when compared to the better more competitive harddrive alternate models!

Looks to me, that the missing bits indicate that the design team, took a lot of short cuts, ran out of development funds, and deliberately tied the end users to buy additional expensive sony proprietary products! Possibly, could be a kluge from the Konica Minolta parts bin?
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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A few things about HDV
A few things:

1) People (or kids, whoever) need to get a handle on the whole rootkit thing. Bertelsmann and Sony America both JOINTLY own Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which is HQ in New York. Our friends in Japan who have been making camcorders for years have nothing to do with the MUSIC INDUSTRY THUGS THAT WANT ABSOLUTE CONTROL OF ALL ASPECTS OF OUR DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT.

2) Anyone that is serious about video knows that current DV standard definition HDD camcorders (i.e. JVC) have more shortcomings than advantages over MiniDV.

3) Until a legitimate HD standard is devised and finalized that allows storage onto a (very large) HDD, HDV will remain an attractive format. MiniDV is still a very good storage medium, even though it lacks the random access benefits seen with flash memory and HDDs. More importantly, MiniDV is very affordable...13GB of DV/HDV storage that is removable, can be replenished immediately for video to keep on rolling, and is available for less than $5.

4) The HC1 is a technological marvel that continues to sell very well to the prosumers, independents, and pros alike. The HC3 is going to be the breakthrough product that brings HD video within reach to a much larger group of consumers.

5) In the 12 round bout, Sony has won the first three rounds. Other manufacturers have yet to show up.
Posted by muxone (3 comments )
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