Hardware Information


Expert Guide to DVD Camcorders


Thinking about a mini DVD camcorder? You're not alone, it's a rapidly growing sector of the camcorder market, with Hitachi, Sony and Panasonic all making more than one mini dvd camcorder.

These camcorders differ from regular digital video cameras in one important way - they record video onto mini DVD discs, rather than DV tape. This has a number of advantages. DVD discs are more robust than tape and won't get chewed up in the camera. Although this is thankfully a rare occurance, it scares me every time I here a strange noise coming from my camcorder, so it's with bearing in mind.

The second advantage is that DVD discs are random access, compared to tape on which everything is recorded sequentially. This means that there's no need to rewind and fast forward to find the clip you're after, just select it from the menu. Some cameras even allow you to perform basic editing functions on-camera. An additional side-benefit is that a mini DVD camcorder doesn't have tape heads to get worn or dirty as happens in regular mini DVD cameras.

And thirdly, you can easily watch your home movies by removing the DVD from the camera and playing it in practically any DVD player.

However, there are negative factors to. The most siginificant one is that video is encoded as MPEG-2 on a mini DVD camcorder, as opposed to DV format. This means that it needs specialist software to edit - you can't just use your regular video editing program (unless it specifically supports MPEG-2). And if a Mac user you're out of luck, as there are no MPEG-2 editing applications for the Mac.

Also, mini DVD camcorders tend to cost more than similarly specified mini DV cameras. And the media is also more expensive. However, if you don't intend editing your movies and don't mind the extra cost, a mini dvd camcorder does offer extraordinary convenience.

Kenny Hemphill is the editor and publisher of The HDTV Tuner, a site which aims to cut through the confusion surrounding HDTV and provide surfers with up to date, accurate and easy to read information on HDTV.


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