TOKYO (07/07/2000) - Suddenly you don't need video tape anymore.
Hitachi Ltd. launched a camcorder based on DVD-RAM disks a couple of weeks ago, and now Panasonic Corp. is launching a home VCR that uses the same optical disc based system. That means the days of fuzzy pictures, slow rewinds and the frustration of looking for something on a tape could be gone forever.
At least, if you have a large wallet.
The Panasonic machine weighs in at 250,000 yen (US$2,335), or about the price of 15 low-end VHS machines. At 2,700 yen ($25) per disc, the media isn't cheap either. But Panasonic is betting that some people will buy the system: it intends to make 4,000 of the VCRs per month and 50,000 of the discs. It is also selling the machines to Hitachi, which will sell them under its own brand name.
The machines are based on the second-generation version of DVD-RAM, which can accommodate 4.7G bytes of information on a single sided disc -- almost double the capacity of the first generation. That's enough space to store 4 hours of video in long play mode, 2 hours in standard play mode, or an hour of video in the machine's highest-quality mode.
In addition to the DVD-RAM discs, the machines can also accept conventional DVD Video discs; the smaller, 8cm DVD RAM cartridges now being used by Hitachi in the company's new optical disc camcorder; audio CDs and Video CDs.
Standard functions include MPEG2 variable bit-rate compression, which reduces the amount of data recorded onto the disc in cases where it is not needed, helping to preserve disc space, digital noise reduction, 3D Y/C separation, and external inputs for a time base corrector (TBC).
Manufacturer: Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic)Model Name: DMR-E10-NAvailability: Now in Japan; no schedule for sales elsewherePrice: 250,000 yen ($2,335) in JapanManufacturer: Hitachi Ltd.
Model Name: DV-RX2000
Availability: August 25 in Japan; no schedule for sales elsewherePrice: 250,000 yen ($2,335) in Japan