The HDTV Picture Show Page 5

HDTV-Friendly Camcorders

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Several recent high-def camcorders provide a digital HDMI output. A main benefit of this - aside from razor-sharp high-def picture quality - is that HDMI simplifies hookup to a TV by transmitting both video and multichannel audio over a single cable.

HDV models record high-def video to regular miniDV tapes using tried-and-true MPEG-2 compression. The big plus here is that a wide range of popular computer video-editing programs can easily handle video encoded in that format. New HDV cams featuring an HDMI output include Canon's HV20 ($1,100) and Sony's HDR-HC7 ($1,399) and HDR-HC5 ($1,099).

If you're tired of tape, another HD camcorder option is an HDD model that records video to a built-in hard disk. Two such cams are available: Sony's HDR-SR1 ($1,500) and JVC's GZ-HD7 ($1,800). The upside to these is the speedy random access to clips, which comes from storing video on a hard disk. But a potential downside - at least with the Sony model - is limited compatibility with video-editing programs due to the cam's use of the relatively new MPEG-4 AVCHD compression scheme.

Panasonic offers a few additional options for those seeking a high-def camcorder with an HDMI output. Its HDC-DX1 ($1,000) records high-def images to recordable DVD-R/RL or RAM discs, while its sleek HDC-SD1 ($1,300) uses SDHC cards, which provide more than 2 gigabytes of data storage. (The included 4-GB card can hold around 1 hour of high-def video.)

A pair of enticingly compact new hybrid digital camera/camcorders from Canon and Sanyo provide two more options for high-def video recording on SDHC cards. Canon's PowerShot TX1 ($500) and Sanyo's Xacti VPC-HD2 ($700) combine 7.1-megapixel still-image capture with 720p-format high-def video recording (using Motion JPEG compression on the Canon and MPEG-4 AVC on the Sanyo). Unlike the other models here, these cams require a clunky component-video/stereo-audio connection to hook up to an HDTV. But their ultracool form factor might go a long way toward helping you overlook that. - Al Griffin

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