Sony camera to breathe life into FireWire

Sony today attempted to inject fresh impetus into the market for FireWire peripherals by releasing a digital video camera capable of transferring data at up to 200Mbps.

While FireWire - or IEEE.1394 as it is sometimes known - is not a new technology, peripherals that take advantage of its lightning fast transfer rates have been scarce. Sony's DFW-V300 Digital Colour Camera is its second camera in the category and the Japanese giant is confident that it is on the verge of a breakthrough in FireWire.

The camera offers the ability to transfer 30 frames-per-second motion video at 640 x 480 to a FireWire-enabled PC at 200Mbps. Sony sees the product being used in video capture, communications and vertical tasks but is waiting on appropriate software to supply the product to OEM customers. Pricing will be in the £650-900 range depending on bundles.

Sony acknowledges that the very minor penetration of FireWire-enabled PCs or add-in cards means that peripherals that use the standard won't be widespread just yet. However, the firm sees several reasons why the technology will soon explode.

According to the firm, the driving factors boil down to software and hardware support.

"Microsoft's PC 98 specification provides a promise Microsoft will offer operating system support as a standard and Intel will develop a prototype motherboard in the first or second quarter of 1998 that supports FireWire," said Hiro Tsutsui, marketing manager for Sony's Image Sensing Products (ISP) Group in the UK.

"Then we'll just need real application software. I think we'll see real growth in the market at the end of this year or the beginning of next. There are over 140 members in our trade association," he added.

Separately, Tsutsui said Sony will ship industrial-mount and standard FireWire monochrome and colour cameras in mid-1998.

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