Sony unveils cheapest 4K camcorder yet

The HDR-AX33 is one of two 4K cameras being launched by Sony

Sony will soon launch the cheapest camcorder yet that can capture images at four times the resolution of high-definition video.

The HDR-AX33 Handycam, to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday, is the latest in a line of cameras from the company that can shoot in "ultra high definition" resolution of 3,840 pixels by 2,160 pixels, dubbed "4K" resolution by the industry.

Each iteration of the technology has brought a reduction in price and that will happen again when the HDR-AX33 goes on sale for $US1,100 -- substantially cheaper than Sony's current cheapest 4K camcorder, which costs around $US2,000.

The camera, the launch date for which was not immediately announced, has the latest version of Sony's optical image stabilization and to match its high resolution has a wide 26.8 millimeter lens.

A second 4K camera, the FDR-X100V, is a GoPro-style action camera intended to stand up to knocks and drops. Such cameras have fewer features than conventional camcorders and are usually missing things like a zoom lens.

The device will cost $US500 when it goes on sale later this year and can also shoot in conventional 1080p high definition. The camera includes image stabilization in HD mode but not 4K mode and has audio processing to reduce wind noise.

Sony said it is also equipped with "Highlight Movie Maker" that will automatically analyse captured footage and create highlight movies that include smiles, big stunts or jumps.

Sony has a good reason to offer cheaper 4K camcorders beyond competition with other companies. It's investing heavily in 4K television research and development and attempting to lead the high-end of the TV market, but consumers will only buy the sets if they have something to watch. Sony has offered some of its own movies in 4K format to customers, but is also hoping consumers will create their own content.

The cameras will be on show all this week at the International CES show in Las Vegas, from January 6 to January 9.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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