Sony Announces 2004 Camcorder Lineup

Reprinted from a Sony press release:

Sony Electronics, by far the U.S. camcorder market leader, is continuing to improve and simplify the video capture experience as illustrated by today’s introduction of six new Handycam MiniDV camcorder models.

Smaller Sizes, Bigger Benefits
Sony has redesigned three of its MiniDV models, the DCR-HC20, DCR-HC30 and DCR-HC40, averaging 25 percent less in volume over last years’ models. By adopting touch-screen technology for access to the camcorders menu system and incorporating a built-in lens cover, these models are not only ultra portable but are ergonomically sound.

In addition to changing their look, Sony has advanced some of the special Handycam camcorder features for all its MiniDV camcorders. One in particular is the new NightShot Plus system that allows for recording in darkness while delivering more natural color to video.

Making Video Capture and Editing Easy
So consumers can concentrate on the pleasure of taking video and not be concerned whether their camcorder is in the correct setting, all of Sony’s 2004 camcorders will have a new Easy Handycam operation button on the outside of them. When pressed, the button resets the camcorder’s settings to automatic mode and adjusts the LCD display to show only the essential icons like power and tape length, while enlarging the icons for better viewing.

“Some camcorder owners take advantage of all the bells and whistles a Sony camcorder has to offer but others want only to enjoy the basics of video recording and that is who Sony had in mind when adding the Easy Handycam operation button to its latest Handycam models,” said Linda Vuolo, director of camcorder products and digital imaging accessories at Sony Electronics.

And for those who thought editing home videos was only a fantasy, the new supplied PicturePackage software opens the door to creativity. In three simple steps, video fans can quickly create personalized music videos from their footage or engaging slideshow movies from still images with this easy-to-use software.

Another way camcorder users can share life in motion is by enabling the USB Streaming feature, which turns the camcorder into a web cam. It can stream live and recorded video via a USB connection and video conferencing software such as the Microsoft NetMeeting application.

Starting the line-up, the DCR-HC20 model has the aforementioned feature package as well as a 2.5-inch SwivelScreen hybrid LCD display with a start/stop record button on the LCD frame in addition to Carl Zeiss optics. The DCR-HC30 camcorder is next in line and adds a Memory Stick DUO slot for still image and MPEG1 capture up to the capacity of the media, plus an active 3D-menu system that uses bit-map technology for animation and special effects to enhance user-friendliness.

The DCR-HC40 model incorporates a one-megapixel imager to yield video and digital still images with crisp definition. And for those looking for more of a view, the DCR-HC65 unit sports a 3.5-inch SwivelScreen hybrid LCD display.

Two-Megapixel for Video and Still
By adding a two-megapixel imager to the DCR-HC85 camcorder, it not only delivers 1600 x 1200 digital still images but also increases the video quality up to 530 lines of horizontal video resolution. The unit also offers the advanced multi-layer coating of a Carl Zeiss T lens, and in combination with two-megapixel technology, the result is more vivid and richer color in video and pictures.

In addition, the model offers enhanced but simple to use digital still image features, including intelligent pop-up flash and manual sharpness settings.

Stay Charged, Get Connected
Rounding out the camcorder line, is the DCR-PC109 model offering a similar set of features as the DCR-HC40 model but boosting convenience with the supplied Handycam Station. Like a cell phone or handheld cradle, the Handycam Station charges the camcorder and connects it to a TV or PC, while keeping it easily accessible. The Handycam Station comes fully loaded with all the necessary inputs, including S-Video and an audio/video terminal for hooking it up to playback video on a TV. It also has a USB 1.1 port and an i.LINK (IEEE-1394) interface for connection to compatible PCs. And when not at home, users can take advantage of both the power and the A/V connections that have been incorporated directly into the unit.

New Model Pricing and Availability
DCR-HC20 includes 10X optical/120X digital zoom. The DCR-HC20 model will be available in February for about $500.

DCR-HC30 includes the above mentioned features and an 8MB Memory Stick Duo media card with adapter. The DCR-HC30 model will be available in February for about $600.

DCR-HC40 includes the above mentioned features and a one-megapixel imager. The DCR-HC40 model will be available in February for about $700.

DCR-HC65 includes the above mentioned features and a 3.5″ hybrid LCD display. The DCR-HC65 model will be available in April for about $800.

DCR-PC109 includes the features above but has a 2.5″ hybrid LCD display and adds the Handycam Station. The DCR-PC109 model will be available in March for about $900.

DCR-HC85 has a similar feature set as the DCR-HC65 model including a 3.5″ hybrid LCD display and adds a two-megapixel image. The DCR-HC85 model will be available in April for about $1,000.

All six MiniDV camcorders also offer Sony’s advanced Life-in-Motion features, such as an InfoLithium battery with the AccuPower Meter system and connection via an i.LINK (DV In/Out IEEE-1394) interface to compatible PCs for digital video editing.

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