Hitachi preps first DVD-RAM camcorder

DVD-RAM may not be ready for a close-up with consumers, but it's at least prepared for a bit part

Hitachi America announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which ends Tuesday, that it will have a DVD-RAM camcorder on retail shelves by the end of January.

According to Hitachi, the DZ-MV100A will be the first camcorder on the market that records images onto a digital versatile disc.

But first won't necessarily spell success.

Dataquest analyst Mary Craig said she believes consumer demand will lag until the price of the camcorder and DVD-RAM discs comes down.

The camcorder will sell for nearly $2,000, which Craig called "too expensive" for consumers. Each 2.8GB disc will run $20 to $30 and hold about two hours of images.

In addition, the 8cm DVD-RAM discs, which are physically smaller than the conventional DVDs used for studio films, can't be played on most DVD players.

However, Hitachi expects that a DVD player that can read DVD-RAM will eventually hit the market, said Greg Belloni, a Hitachi spokesman.

At CES, Panasonic also announced that this spring it will begin selling the VDR-M10, a DVD-RAM camcorder with similar features to Hitachi's model.

DVD-RAM is one of three DVD-recordable formats that will be vying for consumer attention. The others are DVD-R/DVD-RW and DVD+RW, which hasn't yet hit the market.

Belloni said Hitachi chose DVD-RAM for good reasons: It can record at twice the speed of DVD-R/DVD-RW. And DVD-RAM discs can be rewritten 100,000 times, while a DVD-R/DVD-RW disc can be rewritten 1,000 times.

DVD-RAM can be used for both data storage and video editing. It makes the latter function easier because a person can readily jump back and forth from one scene to another during editing.

Because of the scarcity of DVD-RAM players on the market, Craig said the current format is better for storage than for moviemaking.

The camcorder can also take 1.9-megapixel digital still shots.

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