Camcorder adding DVD-RAM

Hitachi plans a digital camcorder that uses DVD-RAM instead of videotape, a breakthrough step into the consumer market.

Hitachi plans to market a digital camcorder that uses DVD-RAM instead of videotape by the end of next year, potentially a breakthrough step into the consumer market for the high-capacity storage medium.

The Japanese company recently unveiled a prototype model, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, which quoted company sources in reporting Hitachi's ambitions.

The use of DVD-RAMs (digital versatile disc-random access memory), which can hold 5.2GB or up to one hour of moving images on a double-sided disk, could open up yet another avenue for the so-called convergence movement. Because the disks can be edited, footage shot with a DVD camcorder could be manipulated with common software applications.

Already, DVD-ROM (read-only memory) drives are becoming more and more common in higher-end PCs, and companies like Toshiba are moving ahead in the manufacture DVD-RAM drives for desktop systems. Windows 98's built-in support for DVD-RAM is also expected to play a role in the drives' incorporation into PCs.

On the other hand, DVD-RAM's future has been clouded by the work of Sony, Philips, and Hewlett-Packard on a similar but incompatible technology known as DVD-RW (rewritable). Typically, the presence of rival products is thought to confuse consumers and encourage manufacturers to delay the incorporation new technologies.