Could Samsung's DV be the Smallest Yet?

Samsung: Smallest Mini DV Yet…

Samsung Electronics recently introduced four new camcorders, including the pocket-sized SC-D590 Mini DV unit (pictured). Claiming the title of smallest upright Mini DV available in the world, at least for the time being, the SC-D590 (MSRP $1,199) measures in at 3.74 inches by 1.6 inches by 3.7 inches.

The miniscule model is equipped with a 680,000-pixel CCD, 10x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD and Nite Pix feature for shooting in the dark. The compact cam also supports Memory Stick removable storage for still images. In addition, it includes a Smart Shoe for an external flash as well as FireWire and USB connections for video and image transfers. The SC-D86 Mini DV cam (MSRP $699) offers similar features on a roomier chassis.

Samsung also added two Hi8 analog models to its lineup. The SC-L700 (MSRP $299) and the SC-L770 (MSRP $399) each offer a 270,000-pixel CCD, 22x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD and Worldwide Multisystem Output, which allows video playback in NTSC and PAL formats. In addition, the SC-L770 includes a USB connection, image stabilizer, snapshot mode and picture-in-picture feature.

WriteDVD! Pro 4.0 to Support All DVD Formats

Software Architects Inc.’s WriteDVD! Pro 4.0 disc authoring software is designed to allow you to write to all DVD formats and all major-brand DVD drives. It is available for both Windows and Mac. WriteDVD!

Version 4.0, which SAI says is DVD Forum-compliant, writes to DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM discs. It is also projected to support name-brand drives such as Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer and Sony.

WriteDVD! Pro 4.0, which boasts an easy-to-use "Drag and Drop" interface, has four key elements: the WriteDVD! file system, FormatUDF! formatter and test utility, Write-DVD! device drivers and FixDVD! disc repair and file recovery utility. FixDVD! tests your media for defects and can diagnose and repair certain damaged discs. WriteDVD! Pro 4.0 is available now for $90 (MSRP). SAI also sells a $60 version, which comes without the FixDVD! Repair feature.

Pinnacle Releases Studio 8
Adding DVD, VCD and SVCD creation tools as well as real-time DV-to-MPEG-2 transcoding, Pinnacle Systems has announced Studio 8 video editing/disc authoring software.

With the new version, which carries a $99 price tag, Pinnacle targets people who’ve yet to edit video as well as previous Studio (and its competitors) users. Pinnacle said Version 8’s ability to provide an at-once editing and authoring environment is unlike other consumer-level video products. Studio 8 editors should be able to create discs that include looping background music, as well as moving video backgrounds and menu buttons.

Studio 8, scheduled for an August release, comes in several other incarnations. Studio DV 8 ($129) includes a FireWire card, Studio AV 8 ($129) comes with an analog capture board and Studio Deluxe 8 ($299) features a FireWire card and analog breakout box.

Neptune Optimistic about Mediashare

Microsoft recently gave Neptune’s Mediashare online video sharing service a shot in the arm, announcing that it had chosen Mediashare as a component in its Windows Movie Maker. Movie Maker offers users a simple way to create and edit home movies, and Mediashare provides those users a convenient way to store and share their video albums online.

Mediashare, initially launched last October, is available for a $39 yearly service fee. Once aboard, users have 150MB of available server space, and can enjoy well-designed Flash templates, which include Java animations, as well as authoring tools for online video and still-image albums. Encoded for broadband speeds, Mediashare’s full-screen, full-frame streamed video (in QuickTime or Windows Media formats) is of very good quality. Neptune expects interest in online video sharing to greatly increase as the escalation of broadband access, DV camcorders and high-powered computers become more widespread.


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Panasonic’s New DVD Camcorder

Instead of tape, Panasonic’s recently announced VDR-M20 DVD camcorder records compressed MPEG-2 digital video and still images onto removable 8cm DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs.

Expected in September, the VDR-M20 should come with a $1,000 price tag, making it $1,500 less than its predecessor, the slightly more feature-rich VDR-M10. The VDR-M20’s 1.1-megapixel CCD offers 720,000 pixels of resolution for video.

The unit will record to 4.7GB single-sided or 9.4GB double-sided DVD-RAM discs and 4.7GB DVD-R discs in three quality modes: Extra, Fine and Standard. For playback, the VDR-M20-recorded video should be compatible with a variety of DVD decks and portable players. In light of today’s DVD Forum vs. DVDplusRW battle, Panasonic plainly stated that the VDR-M20’s recording technology complies with the DVD Forum’s standardized formats.

Movie navigation with the VDR-M20 will be much easier than with Mini DV tape, allowing random, instant access to particular scenes. When recording, the VDR-M20 will automatically search for a blank space on the disc, eliminating the possibility of overwriting previously recorded footage.

The unit offers some in-camera editing features and includes a color viewfinder, 2.5-inch color LCD, 12x optical zoom, S-video and composite video jacks and audio jacks, as well as a USB port for computer connectivity.

Panasonic also announced the DMR-E30, its newest living-room-style DVD recorder. At press time, it was slated for an August release at $800.

In addition, Panasonic’s DVDBurner II DVD Multi drive for the PC, expected in October for "less than $500," is designed to read and write in DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, as well as CD-R and CD-RW formats.

Avid’s Xpress DV 3.5 Supports OS X and XP

Avid Technology recently announced immediate availability of Xpress DV 3.5, the newest version of its prosumer-level video editor. And the big news – for the first time, it supports Macs as well as PCs.

Xpress DV 3.5, a self-contained package that facilitates a wide range of video input, editing and output capabilities, offers over 100 customizable real-time preview effects. It is designed to let editors preview titles, transitions, picture-in-picture effects and perform color correction simultaneously, without any render time. Based on the properties of its professional editor, Symphony, Avid said Xpress DV 3.5’s new color-correction tools will automatically match skin tones between scenes with a single click.

Xpress DV 3.5 has an MSRP of $1,699, and supports Mac OS X 10.1.4 (or later) and Windows XP Professional operating systems. Along with the Avid editor, Xpress DV 3.5 includes versions of Boris Graffiti and FX, as well as Sonic’s DVDit! SE. A $2,499 PowerPack version includes a larger software bundle.

Groundbreaking Video Codec from Divio

Digital video chip designer Divio recently introduced a single-chip codec that it says will enable manufacturers to design solid-state camcorders that combine best-of-class technologies: 30 frames-per-second MPEG-4 video, high fidelity two-channel audio and up to 4-megapixel digital-still image functionality. The camcorders would use Flash memory cards to store the video, stills and audio information.

The NW901 codec from Divio is anticipated to allow camcorder builders to develop more innovative, compact and low-cost designs, the company said. To facilitate this, Divio has created an SDcam reference design for manufacturers to develop solid-state camcorders. That design includes the NW901 codec; high-quality megapixel CCD sensor/lens; 32-bit host microcontroller with Secure Digital (SD) interface, composite and S-video; LCD monitor; and schematics, firmware and technical documents.

Media 100 Introduces i/DV and iFinishDV Editing Systems

Touting its new hardware card and software as the only dual-stream editing system that seamlessly works with Adobe After Effects, Media 100 recently released i/DV (for Macintosh) and iFinish DV (for Windows).

Focusing on the content design market, i/DV and iFinish DV allow project editors to export layers of video into After Effects, utilize its animation, filters and effects tools, then export video back to their Media 100 systems with the touch of a button.

The new dual-stream system boards make use of Media 100’s proprietary DV codec. Designed to upsample in real time from 4:1:1 DV sources to 4:2:2 upon capture, the new systems should limit image degradation for compositors working with compressed video sources.

Media 100’s i/DV and iFinish DV come with an MSRP of $1,995. Analog and uncompressed digital format I/O cards are optionally available. Complete turnkey systems are expected from retail partners who integrate systems around Media 100 boards. Available in July for Mac OS 9 and Windows 2000, OS X and Windows XP versions are expected by summer’s end.

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