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Blu Monday: Hitachi touting world's first Blu-ray camcorder?

Hitachi is planning to debut the first Blu-ray camcorder before the end of the year, sending the Internet rumour mill into overdrive

Rumour is building that Hitachi will be first to debut a Blu-ray video camera, with pictures of mock-ups circulating on the Interweb and a 2007 launch apparently on the cards. Official information is still hazy (and mostly in Japanese) -- so don't pin too much hope on finding a Blu-ray camcorder in your stocking this Christmas.

Hitachi announced it was in the game at Japanese trade show CEATEC late last year, where these mock-ups appeared. The cameras are said to include 5.3-megapixel CMOS sensors and record to 8cm discs, which will hold less data than the usual 12cm Blu-ray discs.

Estimates of disk capacity vary from 7GB to 15GB of information. Presumably, utilising smaller disks which are the same dimensions as other current storage media will allow these cameras to take other cheaper disks as well as Blu-ray. The catch is that these are, as yet, just shiny round models. These Blu-ray midgets will probably be integrated into Hitachi's spooky-sounding Wooo range.

The Blu-ray high-definition video format, currently locked in a vicious scrap with HD DVD, is able to store more information on a disk than HD DVD, but is also more expensive. A full-sized single-layer disc can hold 25GB, and a dual-layer disc can hold 50GB.

It's hard to get excited about a format war that seems more like an endurance slog, as Sony has been muttering about Blu-ray camcorders since way back in 2005. Even if Hitachi is first to finally open the format war on the camcorder front, Sony and everyone else in the Blu-ray camp will hope it can establish a beachhead. If camcorder customers buy into Blu-ray, the format stands a much better chance of being widely adopted. -Rich Trenholm