Not content with launching two Hi8 players, Sony has also announced the launch of five new DV players.

PRESS RELEASE: Five new compact Sony DV Handycams are ready to hit the market in March and April. Packed with new features, the DCR-HC18, DCR-HC20, DCR-HC30, DCR-HC40 and DCR-HC85 provide the best combination of ease of use and high picture quality yet seen in a DV Handycam. Among the enhancements to the range are a newly-compact horizontal body design, 16:9 widescreen mode, enhanced touch sensitive LCD technology, improved menu systems and higher quality CCDs and lenses.

“There is something for everyone in our exciting new range of compact DV camcorders,” says Shaun Dorrington, Camcorder Product Manager, Sony UK. “Packed with new technology across the board, the new range looks better than ever after a revolutionary redesign. New functions intended for ease of use mean that the whole family can now get into digital video, while the high-end models offer the latest Sony enhancements to image processing and video quality.”

Coming in at the higher end of the range, the DCR-HC40 is a prime example to show off the feature set of the new arrivals. It features a 1 MegaPixel CCD for high definition video and excellent colour reproduction with an ultra compact Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar Lens for superior
image capture. It is also able to offer true 16:9 widescreen mode by using the whole area of the Megapixel CCD. As well as allowing direct recording in 16:9 mode onto the tape, this has the advantage of allowing a wider angle of view and a higher resolution picture than other methods. This also means you can to play back your movies on 16:9 screen televisions, taking full advantage of the widescreen functionality.

Redesigned for ease of use
The new compact design is not just for show. The inclusion of a second Start/Stop button on the LCD frame means that it is now far easier to control recording, even when the subject is yourself. As well as a full colour viewfinder that provides a high-resolution picture, the 2.5-inch LCD display on the DCR-HC30 and above incorporates a sensitive Touch Panel interface and a new Active menu for easier one touch operability. This menu has been redesigned in a logical structure so that selecting functions becomes even more straightforward and again the camera is far easier to use. As well as a means of controlling editing and playback and adjusting camera settings, this can also display information about the battery level and available recording time.

The top new compact DV model, the DCR-HC85, features a larger and more versatile ‘Hybrid' LCD screen. This 3.5-inch display provides a very bright picture for use in high contrast situations, such as beach or ski scenes. The 2 Megapixel CCD on this fully-featured camcorder also lends weight to the 16:9 widescreen mode and provides a much more natural picture all round. The high-class image processing of the DCR-HC85 is complemented by its top quality Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens. This offers a 10x Variable Optical Zoom as well as having the benefit of a 120x Precision Digital Zoom. In addition it offers Super NightShot Plus, an enhanced version of the technology that can produce colour pictures even when recording in the dark.

For beginners, an Easy Handycam button on the camcorders now provides a one-step solution to confusing menus. This new and unique Sony function simplifies the choice of menu features, displaying a limited set of commands on the LCD screen in large, easy to read characters. With almost all settings on automatic, the user is presented with only the commands necessary for basic camera operation, making learning to shoot video even easier. Users can return to the normal function Regular Mode by simply pressing a single button, making these cameras perfect for both beginners and more advanced users.

High speed connectivity
An i.LINK connection allows users to transfer the video footage at high speed to a compatible PC for editing and each model in the range comes bundled with Picture Package - a new and extremely easy way of creating movies on Video CD. Targeted at the beginner, this solution-oriented package does away with the need for complex video editing software on the computer. The simple process starts with the user choosing a music track, then the video from the camera. Confirming the selection starts the software quickly burning a movie to VideoCD using the computer's CD recorder. The result is a professional looking video that has been automatically edited to match the music and which benefits from the automatic addition of special effects between the scenes. Output directly to VideoCD for widespread distribution, it can be played in most PCs or domestic DVD players. USB Web streaming is also an option as the camcorders can use USB to provide high speed transfer of e-movies and digital pictures to a PC, allowing the camcorder to be used as a Webcam, or to be burnt to a CD. In addition, the models in the range from the DCR-HC20 and above further benefit from the inclusion of a DV-IN function which allows video edited on a PC to be recorded back to tape.

Storage is also a key factor, but in keeping with the compact design, Sony has made its new DV camcorders compatible with Memory Stick DUO™ for digital image capture and high-speed data transfer (DCR-HC30 and above). Half the size of a normal Memory Stick, the Sony Memory Stick DUO™ is available in up to 128 MB capacity and comes with an adaptor so it can be used in devices that use the larger Memory Stick format.

As well as i.LINK and USB cables, each camcorder comes bundled with an AV cable to connect to the TV. Manual focus, exposure control and IR remote control are incorporated as standard.

The DCR-HC18, DCR-HC20, DCR-HC30, DCR-HC40 and DCR-HC85 will be available in the UK during March and April 2004.