Hitachi concocting Blu-ray camcorder

The company that's fond of putting DVD recorders and hard drives into video cameras will next try to bring out a Blu-ray camcorder.

Hitachi will try to come out with a video camera with a built-in Blu-ray burner in one to two years, Hiroto Yamauchi, general manager of storage products marketing at Hitachi, told sister site CNET during an interview at Ceatec, a large Japanese trade show taking place in the Makuhari district this week.

"I hope it is one year," said Kazuto Shimagami, senior manager in the company's storage products division.

The camcorder would not include a conventional drive using discs 12 centimetres in diameter. Instead, Hitachi wants to incorporate a Blu-ray burner that would use eight-centimetre discs, the two executives said. Those drives and the disks that would go in them do not exist yet; the companies involved in Blu-ray are currently fleshing out the specifications for an eight-centimetre Blu-ray drive.

The smaller discs would hold less data. Standard 12-centimetre DVD disks hold 4.7GB of data, Yamauchi noted, while the small eight-centimetre disks hold 1.4GB. Still, considering Blu-ray discs hold 25GB to 50GB (depending on whether the disk stores data on one or two surfaces) the smaller disks would hold a considerable amount of video footage. A standard 50GB Blu-ray disk can hold six hours of high-definition video.

The smaller discs would also make for a sleeker, smaller camera. Hitachi currently has the top-selling camcorder in Japan -- a model with an eight-centimetre DVD burner and a hard drive. The camera currently accounts for about three percent of the overall domestic market. A version of the device will come to Europe next year and later to the US.

Yamauchi also added that Hitachi, while firmly in the Blu-ray camp, won't be rushing to the market with a Blu-ray DVD recorder. The company has created one and is showing it off at the show. The current prices -- around 300,000 yen (AU$3,420) -- are out of reach for most consumers. As a result, Hitachi will wait until the price goes down.

"One hundred thousand yen is a reasonable price," Yamauchi said.

The Japanese giant will also possibly look at expanded compatibility in the next generation of discs -- coming out with a player compatible with both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats in a few years.

"We are concentrating on Blu-ray. After it becomes established, we will study an HD DVD/Blu-ray player," Yamauchi said.

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