MINI DISC CAMCORDER A POSSIBILITY?
Sony have announced a technical standard for
data storage on their Mini Disc system, initially for use in personal
computers, as a potential replacement for conventional hard and floppy disc
storage media. The Mini Disc, or MD magneto-optical system was originally
developed as a sucessor for the ageing compact cassette, and like its rival,
the tape-based DCC (digital compact
cassette) format it can record, as well as replay high-quality digital audio.
This new application has some other intruiging possibilities, including the
storage of moving video.With a data transfer rate of 150k bytes/second and
existing data compression techniques it would be theoretically possible to
store upwards of 15 minutes of moving video on a disc. It doesn't take an
enormous leap in imagination to envisage a Mini Disc camcorder, the deck
mechanism would be smaller, lighter and simpler than an 8mm tape transport. The
benefits of such a system would be considerable, not least rapid track access and
identification, which could prove invaluable for editing.
CANON NUMBER ONE
According to figures recently published by
market analysts GFK the Canon E60, E200 and E230 were the UK's top-selling
camcorders during the month of May. Naturally Canon are very pleased with their
performance, which has seem them climb from seventh place in just two years.
Sony, who Canon toppled from the number position, pointed out that they are
still the leading brand, in terms of value and during the month in question accounted
for almost 25% of the market.
Owners of Canon cameras and camcorders can
now get technical advice by ringing a special customer helpline number, manned
by a team of experts. It's a premium service line, so call are charged at the
rate of 48 pence per minute, the number to ring is (0891) 310210. Canon are
also operating a computerised freephone line for customers wishing to order a
brochure, or locate their nearest dealer; it wortks best with a touch-tone
telephone. Give them a buzz on (0800) 616417.
THE SIMA SELECTION
The trouble with the sort of single-point
stereo microphones used on camcorders is the very narrow stereo image they
produce. Prisma Europe, who import the Sima range of video accessories have
come up with a radical solution in the shape of the Stereo TwinMike, one of
three new Sima microphones from Prisma this month. The TwinMike is a truly
wacky design with two moveable barrels that can be pointed in opposite
directions -- 180 degrees apart -- for the ultimate in stereo seperation.
Someone in the office unkindly suggested it looks like a pair of bunny ears;
you'll have to wait for our considered technical opinion in a forthcoming
Minitest.... TwinMike has high and low
sensitivity settings, an earphone monitor output and a frequency response of
100Hz to 15kHz, and an impredance of 1k ohms, which makes it eminently suitable
for camcorders with FM and hi-fi
recording systems. It should be in the shops by the time you read this for just
under £50. Microphone number two is a high-performance lapel clip design which
comes with a 25 foot lead and fitted on/off switch. The outfit includes a
battery and will be selling for £19.99. The third new microphone is is the
stereo CamMike a conventional accessory shoe mount design with dual
omnidirectional electet elements. It is light, -- just 74grams -- and has an
earphone monitor facility. The suggested retail price is £39.99.
Sima's new Mini VideoProp telescopic chest
pod with swivel-ball mounting plate. On sale now for £34.99.
TWO-HOUR TAPES FROM SONY
Sony are planning to introduce 120 minute 8mm
and Hi8 tapes this Autumn as part of a new range of distinctively packaged Video 8 tapes. A number of improvements
have been made to the formulation and manufacturing processes which Sony claim has led to a 25% increase
in performance. Two-hour 8mm tapes have actually been around for at least a
year, now that Sony have developed one of their own the extra-thin tape has
received official endorsement from the inventors of the format.
BIG FOUR AGREE VIDEO CD
Philips JVC, Sony and Matsuhita, (the parent
of Panasonic and major shareholder of JVC), have come to an agreement on the
standard for linear digital full-motion video which will enable up to 74
minutes of VHS-quality moving video to be stored on 12cm (5-inch) compact
discs. The system, which is based on the MPEG-1 (motion picture experts group)
standard is outlined in the so-called 'white book' specification and is already
being used on professional Karaoke CD equipment.
Video CD's as they will be known will be
playable on a variety of equipment, ranging from audio CD decks with digital
data outputs, specialised Video CD players, CD-I machines with full-motion
video (FMV) cartridges and CD-ROM drives with MPEG decoders.
PHILIPS TURBO BOOST
The latest turbodrive VCR from Philips -- the
first to be built as part of a joint venture with Grundig -- looks like it
might qualify for edit deck status, the VR-838 certainly has a number of
camcorder-friendly features that we shall be looking at in more detail in our
review of this machine, due to be published in the next couple of months. Until
then here's a run-down of what it has to offer:
* NICAM stereo hi-fi audio system
* twin jog/shuttle dials on front panel and
* front-mounted AV terminal
* flying erase head
* twin SCART AV sockets
* Video Plus+ timer programming
* headphone and microphone sockets
* Quasi S-VHS and NTSC replay
* 16 x 9 recording
In addition to all the regular convenience
features the 838 has a most unusual
backlit LCD front panel display, it certainly makes a welcome change from the
over-bright flourescent panel's we're used to. This type of display is much
easier to read, and it's more informative too with moving graphic indicators
for audio recording level and tape position, plus an alphanumeric readout for
deck mode and status. The 838 will be available this October when it will have
a suggested retail price of £600.
The 838 could be a taste of things to come,
we understand Philips are working on an S-VHS version of this machine which
could be in the shops early next year. The most interesting features, from our
point of view, are the proposed Control L and RMC/Panasonic 5-pin editing
terminals, which would make it compatible with the majority of edit controllers
on the market today. More news on this machine as we get it.
Meanwhile Philips will be adding two new
Panasonic-sourced VHS-C camcorders to their range this September. They're the
M620, which is based on the highly successful S20 palmcorder, and the M660,
which is a clone of the NV-R50. They will be selling for £700 and £900
R.Maybury 1993 1907