At a CES press conference held on January 6th, Sony unveiled a new digital video format that records on existing 8mm and Hi8 cassettes: Digital8.

Designed to be backwards-compatible with 8mm and Hi8 tapes, the new format records in a DV-encoded Digital8 format, and can play back analog tapes recorded in 8mm or Hi8. Sony claims that the new format can achieve 500 lines of resolution, which is roughly equivalent to the quality of DV.

Four new Digital8 camcorder models were announced. All included both analog and IEEE-1394 I.Link outputs, both of which are available for analog and digital playback. This means that it's possible to play an 8mm tape in a Digital8 camcorder, and record the digitized output to a computer via the I.Link interface. All models also include Control-L jacks, which will carry existing RC time code information from pre-recorded analog Hi8 tapes, as well as SteadyShot image stabilization, Nightshot infrared recording, headphone jack, and LaserLink wireless transmission from the camcorder to an optional set-top receiver. The top-of-the-line Digital8 DCR-TRV510 ($1399) boasts a flip-out LCD monitor and 2MB flash memory for still-image capture. Other models include the DCR-TRV310 ($1099), the DCR-TRV103 ($999) and the low-cost DCR-TR7000 ($899).

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