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Hitachi flashes MPEG at Comdex

Hitachi creates a prototype MPEG camera that eliminates the need for video capture cards.

Hitachi Electronics (HIT) announced that it has created the first prototype MPEG camera.

The camera, which is smaller than a conventional camcorder, uses MPEG real-time compression to capture full-motion video or still pictures at 352-by-240 pixels, according to Hitachi. A PC Card hard drive is used to store data, and the information can later be transferred to a PC through an interface kit.

Hitachi says that its prototype can do all the compression and decompression as well as the playback of video on a single chip. Normally, a PC user who wants to produce a video needs a camera and video capture card for editing. Hitachi has essentially eliminated the need for the video capture card because data can be transmitted directly to the computer via the built-in MPEG encoder/decoder.

The main drawback for the new camera is that it can only store about 20 minutes of video. The camera can, however, record almost 3,000 photographs using JPEG compression and up to four hours of audio-only recording.

Hitachi will be showing the camera for the first time at Comdex in Las Vegas. No plans for production or pricing were announced.