Hitachi concocting Blu-ray camcorder

Blu-ray DVD recorders aren't in the states yet, but Hitachi is already looking at a Blu-ray camcorder with a new format. Photos: Hitachi DVD tech

MAKUHARI, Japan--The company that's fond of putting DVD recorders and hard drives into video cameras will next try to bring out a Blu-ray camcorder.

Hitachi will try to come out with a video camera with a built-in Blu-ray burner in one to two years, Hiroto Yamauchi, general manager of storage products marketing at Hitachi, told during an interview at Ceatec, a large Japanese trade show taking place here this week.

"I hope it is one year," said Kazuto Shimagami, senior manager in the company's storage products division.

Hitachi at Ceatec

The camcorder would not include a conventional drive using discs 12 centimeters in diameter. Instead, Hitachi wants to incorporate a Blu-ray burner that would use 8-centimeter disks, the two executives said. Those drives and the disks that would go in them do not exist yet; the companies involved in Blu-ray are currently fleshing out the specifications for an 8-centimeter Blu-ray drive.

The smaller discs would hold less data. Standard 12-centimeter DVD disks hold 4.7GB of data, Yamauchi noted, while the small 8-centimeter disks hold 1.4GB. Still, considering Blu-ray disks hold 25GB to 50GB (depending on whether the disk stores data on one or two surfaces) the smaller disks would hold a considerable amount of video footage. A standard 50GB Blu-ray disk can hold six hours of high-definition video.

The smaller disks would also make for a sleeker, smaller camera. Hitachi currently has the top-selling camcorder in Japan--a model with an 8-centimeter DVD burner and a hard drive. The camera currently accounts for about 3 percent of the overall domestic market. A version of the device will come to Europe next year and later to the U.S.

Yamauchi also added that Hitachi, while firmly in the Blu-ray camp, won't be rushing to the market with a Blu-ray DVD recorder. The company has created one and is showing it off at the show. The current prices--around 300,000 yen ($2,500)--are out of reach for most consumers. As a result, Hitachi will wait until the price goes down.

"One hundred thousand yen is a reasonable price," Yamauchi said.

The Japanese giant will also possibly look at expanded compatibility in the next generation of disks--coming out with a player compatible with both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats in a few years.

"We are concentrating on Blu-ray. After it becomes established, we will study an HD DVD/Blu-ray player," Yamauchi said.

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