News has been a bit slow recently. The new Intel processors are not shipping in volume yet, so they have had little impact on the market. The only recent items of interest that I am aware of are that Matrox released the 3.1 version of their AXIO software, and Sony announced two new HDV camcorders, that won’t ship until next year.
AXIO 3.1 has few major improvements. Besides overall stability improvements and bug fixes, Canon’s 25f HDV mode is now supported for you PAL folks, and AXIO systems are now compatible with Omneon media servers. Nothing significant that effects the workflow of the other 95% of their users.
Sony’s new HDV Cameras have a couple of interesting features. The HVR-S270U is shoulder mount camcorder while the HVR-Z7U has the more usual ‘Handycam’ formfactor. Both cameras use a similar imaging solution to the HVR-V1U, with three CMOS imagers at 1920×1080. The larger HVR-S270U supports full sized DV cassettes, for over four hours of continuous recording, and has an HD-SDI output. The smaller HVR-Z7U has a cheaper HDMI output instead of the SDI, and is limited to standard 1-hour MiniDV size cassettes.
The biggest feature that sets these two cameras apart is that they both use interchangable lenses. Previously, the Canon XL-H1 was the only HDV camcorder to support this. This is the primary feature that is missing from the new SxS flash media based XDCam camcorder, the Sony EX1. Speaking of flash based recording, both of these cameras also support a new solid state recording accessory, the HVR-MRC1. This little iPod sized device attaches to the side of the camera, and records the HDV stream directly to solid state CompactFlash memory cards, bypassing the tape entirely, but not the HDV compression. CompactFlash cards are significantly cheaper than P2 or SxS cards, so I can see this becoming a very popular accessory. Supposedly it interfaces directly with the new camcorders, but existing HDV camcorders can take advantage of it through the iLink or IEEE1394 firewire port, which transmits the HDV compressed stream live. This would be similar to the disk based Firestore products, but with the added advantage of being a solid state solution.