Reasons behind Panasonic's Adherence to Use of SD Memory Card, CCD for H.264 Compatible HDTV Camcorder

Nov 10, 2006
Tomohiro Ootsuki, Nikkei Electronics
Dimensions are 74 x 69 x 142 mm. "Four-layer pearly evaporation finishing" is given around the LCD monitor to create luxurious atmosphere.
Dimensions are 74 x 69 x 142 mm. "Four-layer pearly evaporation finishing" is given around the LCD monitor to create luxurious atmosphere.
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Only the operation buttons are located on the back face. The secondary battery (capacity 1,320 mAh) is housed inside the body. Five microphones are mounted inside the metal mesh seen on the upper side of the photo, slightly on the left. Looking from above, these microphones are located on the center and each end of a "+" sign. Such a microphone system can be seen "in our product only. Other manufacturers' products only feature four microphones" (a company's attendant).
Only the operation buttons are located on the back face. The secondary battery (capacity 1,320 mAh) is housed inside the body. Five microphones are mounted inside the metal mesh seen on the upper side of the photo, slightly on the left. Looking from above, these microphones are located on the center and each end of a "+" sign. Such a microphone system can be seen "in our product only. Other manufacturers' products only feature four microphones" (a company's attendant).
[Click to enlarge image]
Inside of the HDC-SD1. It disperses heat using a large number of Cu plates and cooling sheets. The LSIs behind the lens unit work for, from left, image quality enhancement processing (by NEC Electronics Corp.), video output to the LCD panel and other peripherals (by Toshiba Corp.) and H.264 encoding (by Matsushita), respectively. Like Canon's products, it uses an optical stabilizer. In contrast, Sony's products use an electronic stabilizer.
Inside of the HDC-SD1. It disperses heat using a large number of Cu plates and cooling sheets. The LSIs behind the lens unit work for, from left, image quality enhancement processing (by NEC Electronics Corp.), video output to the LCD panel and other peripherals (by Toshiba Corp.) and H.264 encoding (by Matsushita), respectively. Like Canon's products, it uses an optical stabilizer. In contrast, Sony's products use an electronic stabilizer.
[Click to enlarge image]

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. will release the "HDC-SD1" camcorder that records HDTV video on SD memory cards on December 1, 2006. This is the lightest model among HDTV (1080/60i) compatible camcorders, weighing about 430 g without accessories and 490g including a secondary battery pack.

Recording is based on the AVCHD specification using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 encoding technology. The HDC-SD1 will be the market's third AVCHD compatible camcorder following Sony Corp.'s HDR-UX1 and HDR-SR1. Using a 4 GB SDHC memory card, recording time extends to 1 hour in NN mode (bit rate at 9 Mbps) and 1.5 hours in NE mode (6 Mbps).

Matsushita expects initial street pricing for the product packed with a 4 GB SDHC memory card with a data rate of above 2 MBps as standard to be ¥180,000. The company projects sales in the Japanese market of 20,000-digit units per month. This model was exhibited at the "CEATEC 2006" show but the chassis was in a different color.

Unique Component Selection

This model shows a sharp contrast with its memory device and image sensor between other 1080/60i compatible products released by Sony, Canon Inc. and other manufacturers, ahead of Matsushita. It uses SDHC memory cards, which Matsushita's rival manufacturers have not used, as storage media. Although the company will coincidentally release the "HDC-DX1," the HDC-SD1's twin camcorder using DVD discs as storage media, "We will use the DVD just for a short while for overseas markets, where customers are sensitive about media cost. In the long term, the SDHC memory cards will be the pillar," said a company spokesperson.

As the SD memory card's advantages, Matsushita cited its high resistance against vibration and dust resulted from the smaller number of structure components compared to HDD and DVD camcorders, and the reduced size of a camcorder itself.

Matsushita employed a CCD as the camcorder's image sensor, unlike its industry peers using CMOS sensors. One of the reasons behind this decision is that it was easier for the company to acquire high image quality with the CCD, upon which it has built up technological achievements. Matsushita has already commercialized its MOS sensor, which is similar to the CMOS sensor, for mobile phones, but does not seem to have had enough time to prepare a version for video camcorder based on this MOS sensor.

Another reason is that the latest camcorder is "3-CCD type" that uses three units of CCD image sensors. The 3-CCD technology allows a CCD, which is inferior to a CMOS sensor in data rates in principle, to achieve sufficient data rates. Matsushita's adherence to the 3-CCD technology is strong. "We intend to stick to 3-CCD design even if we deploy CMOS or MOS sensors in the future" (Matsushita). This is because the 3-CCD technology can achieve high precision in dispersion (color resolution).

On the other hand, 3-CCD has been facing higher costs required for packaging components into HDTV compatible camcorders, in particular, but Matsushita "resolved this issue by revising our jig and processing technology" to launch this model. The SD-1's CCD features a pixel pitch of 4.1 μm and an optical size of 1/4-inch. Its reading method is progressive scanning.