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Sharp cuts cost of new digital devices

The electronics company hopes to increase the popularity of its products by introducing a new camcorder and MiniDisc player that cost less than their predecessors.

Sharp Electronics today introduced two new portable digital products with aggressive prices, hoping to broaden the appeal of the once-pricey devices.

Sharp has begun shipping its $999.95 VL-SD20U portable digital camcorder and its $199 MD-MT15 portable MiniDisc music player, the company said today.

The new digital camcorder is designed to fit in the palm of the hand. The device features automatic brightness correction and a 3-inch LCD to view recorded images. It weighs a little more than one pound and can take still pictures as well as full-motion video. The VL-SD20U offers over three hours recording time, 10x optical zoom, and some visual effects such as image overlaps.

Sharp's camcorder connects to the PC using a high-speed IEEE 1394 connection to enable fast transfer of images, the company said. Sharp also sells an IEEE 1394 connection kit for $129, which includes image editing software for business and home use.

Sharp also today unveiled its new MiniDisc player and recorder, a portable device that plays the recordable two-inch discs. The new player represents Sharp's "commitment to growing the MiniDisc format," according to a statement by the company.

The new Sharp portable MiniDisc player features 10-second shock-resistant memory system, 100-character titles for personalized songs, and a 12-hour rechargeable battery.