CES - Sony sends your video directly to DVD

DVDs are everywhere at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, even on camcorders. Sony Corp. is launching a new series of models here that record video to rewriteable DVD discs.

Pricing for the low-end model, the DCR-DVD100, will start at around US$1000, and the devices should be available as soon as this (Northern) summer.

Instead of recording to videotape, the new camcorders record to 3-inch DVD-R or DVD-RW discs, which hold a maximum of 60 minutes of video. Although the discs are smaller than normal DVDs, most set-top DVD players will be able to play them back without a problem, and they also can be read by your PC's DVD-ROM drive, making the transfer of video to your PC an easy process.

The DVD-R discs can only be recorded to once, but DVD-RW discs can be reused up to 1,000 times, much like videotapes.

Although the blank discs are not widely available in the United States at the moment, Maxell has announced that it will distribute the 3-inch discs here, and Sony also will sell the discs. The blank discs should cost between US$8 and US$9 for DVD-R, and between US$10 and US$11 for DVD-RW.

Making Movies

All of the new camcorders come with a USB 2.0 port but do not include a FireWire (aka ILink) port. Sony claims that the USB 2.0 interface is faster and, as the camcorder burns video directly to the rewriteable DVD disc, FireWire isn't needed. When connected to a PC, the camcorder appears as a rewriteable DVD disc, allowing you to import video directly to a video-editing program. Edited video can be burned onto the DVD in the camcorder.

Sony's new camcorders aren't the first to use rewriteable DVDs: The Hitachi Ltd. DZ-MV100A records video directly to DVD-RAM discs, although these can't be played in most DVD players. This camcorder also is much larger and heavier than normal camcorders, but the new models from Sony are the same size and weight as normal camcorders.

Sony also used the CES show to unveil its first DVD recorder for the living room, the RDR-GX7. The device can record both DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs, as well as DVD-R (write-once) media. It includes the usual audio/video ports, along with Sony's ILink. It does not have a Memory Stick slot. The RDR-GX7 is scheduled to be released in June with a retail price of US$800.

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