UPDATE: Hitachi unveils first Blu-ray camcorders

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener, Mark Raby

Tokyo (Japan) – Hitachi today unveiled the first two Blu-ray-based camcorders – one “simple” version with an integrated Blu-ray drive and one hybrid model with a Blu-ray / hard drive combination.

 


In Pictures: Hitachi Z-BD7H Blu-ray camcorder ...

 

The two new models, scheduled to go on sale in Japan by the end of this month, expand on the continuing trend to move camcorders into the high definition era. The regular DZ-BD70 is a BD single drive camcorder that stores videos on 8 cm BD-RE/-R, DVD-RAM/-RW/-R or +RW media; the DZ-BD7H adds a 30 GB hard drive.

If you already began to hope that these new camcorders will introduce 1080p to camcorders, we will have to disappoint you: Both models stick to 1080i. The advantage of recording to Blu-ray media mainly is based on more storage space: 8 GB Blu-ray discs offer 7.5 GB of space - more than five times as much as the 8 cm DVD discs, which provide 1.4 GB. The devices also integrate HDMI output and can display HD video directly on a TV with HDMI input.

At the core of both camcorders is a new 5.3 megapixel image sensor that delivers 1080i video resolution as well as 4.3 megapixels for still images (2400 x 1800 pixels). According to Hitachi, video can be recorded to the hard drive as well as BD media in MPEG4 AVC/H.264 format (version 3.0 for BD-RE media, version 2.0 for BD-R media), either in 1440x1080 (11 Mb/s or 7.5 Mb/s) or 1920 x 1080 pixels (15 Mb/s) resolution. Users can also record to standard 8 cm DVDs in MPEG 2 format (720x480 pixels;  9 Mb/s or 6 Mb/s).

 

 

Both camcorders are fairly lightweight at 705 grams for the hybrid model and 650 grams for the Blu-ray only version.

The standalone camcorder will retail in the US for around $1300, while the one with a built-in 30 GB HDD will carry a price tag of around $1600.  This is comparable to other high definition camcorders, which typically retail for $1000 - $1500.  PC-based writable BD drives are currently priced at around $500.

Our colleagues at Akihabara News attended the unveiling in Tokyo. Check out their site with images from the event.