Sony shrinks camcorder to playing-card size

Sony Corp. will begin selling its smallest digital video camcorder yet in October, the Tokyo company said Wednesday.

The DCR-IP1K measures 39 millimeters thick by 69 millimeters wide and 91 millimeters high -- not much more than the size of a pack of playing cards -- and has around 30 percent less volume than Sony's current smallest camcorder, the DCR-IP7, the company said in a statement. It weighs 230 grams, which is about a quarter less than the 310-gram IP7 camcorder.

One of the reasons the camcorder is so much smaller than many competing models, according to Sony, is that it is based on the MicroMV cassette format. That's a physically smaller cassette than the MiniDV cassette, which is popular in many camcorders, although since the IP7 is also based on MicroMV it doesn't explain the size reduction between those two models.

"The size reduction (compared to the IP7) is because the main components are smaller including the lens, circuit board and cassette mechanism," said Aki Shimazu, a spokeswoman for Sony in Tokyo.

Space is also saved by shifting some of the connectors usually found on a camcorder onto a new base station. The base station has a power connector and S-Video connector, which are also on the camcorder, plus a USB (Universal Serial Bus) and ILink interface, the company said. ILink is a Sony implementation of the IEEE1394 data networking standard.

In addition to being smaller, the IP1K is also capable of taking higher-quality images, Sony said. It uses a 1.1 megapixel sensor, of which 1 million [m] pixels are used in still picture mode and 690,000 pixels in video mode, compared to a 0.3 megapixel sensor on the IP7. This means the new camcorder can record still images up to a maximum resolution of 1,152 pixels by 864 pixels, the company said.

A Memory Stick Duo slot is built into the camera for still-image storage and the camera also supports the new PictBridge standard, Sony said. This means it can print images directly to PictBridge compatible printers without the need for a personal computer.

Other features include a 10X optical zoom lens and 2-inch touch-panel display for operating the camera. The camera uses Sony's F-series Lithium Ion batteries and the largest battery provides enough power for 170 minutes of use, the company said.

The DCR-IP1K will go on sale in Japan on Oct. 18 and has a price tag of ¥160,000 (AUD$2,150). Sony said it plans to put the camcorder on sale around the world at around the same time.

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