Two new camcorder accessories offer an alternative to cumbersome hookups to your personal computer or tape-based recording, allowing users to burn DVDs directly from MiniDV or Hard Drive Disk camcorders without the middle man. Sony's DVDirect (VRD-MC5) and the JVC Everio Share Station (CU-VD40) aim to make transferring your home videos from those less-than-versatile formats onto a simple, standard DVD so you can easily store and share your memories.
Even more interesting is that the Sony VRD-MC5 and JVC CU-VD40 are also compatible with their respective brand's high-definition camcorders, meaning you can now easily share HD content as well. This, however, raises some interesting questions about media types, video formats, and connections that can confuse consumers. We'll try to clear things up a bit.
How They Handle High-Definition
The JVC CU-VD40 can only create HD data discs, meaning you can't play them back in a regular DVD player (other than the Share Station itself, which can be hooked up to a TV via an HDMI output). What you end up with is a disc that stores your HD videos as files and can be played back on a computer with the appropriate software. If you have a computer monitor that can display resolutions of 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720, you can view these videos in all their high-definition glory. Note: Standard definition video content burned with the CU-VD40 will play on standard definition DVD players.
The Sony DVDirect VRD-MC5, on the other hand, is fully capable of producing video DVDs that you can play back without a computer. There's still a catch, however. Sony writes the HD video directly to a standard DVD, but if you try and view these discs in a standard DVD player, they won't be in HD. Why? Because a standard DVD player can only read and output 480 lines of resolution, well below the 1080 lines being recorded by the Sony HD camcorder. In order to view HD videos directly and at full resolution, you'll need a Blu-Ray disc player, which can read and display HD videos recorded with the VRD-MC5. Note: Standard definition video content burned with the VRD-MC5 will play on standard DVD players.
Neither of these devices burn video onto Blu-Ray or HD-DVD discs! They are intended to be simple, quick accessories that let people store and share their home movies easily. For the average consumer, this can be a very valuable service.
Not Just For High Definition!
For those of you who don't have high-definition camcorders, you're probably wondering what these devices can do for you. The major benefit is easy transfers to a common format. If you have a Hard Drive Disk, MiniDV (that's the small cassette tape), or other tape-based camcorder, sharing and storing videos can be a hassle. You have to connect the camcorder via cables to watch on your TV, or import the videos to the computer to save and burn them, often struggling with inadequate software and eating up precious space on your PC or Mac. These DVD burners connect right to the camcorder and spit out your memories on a disc you can store and easily access when needed.
How Much Can They Hold?
The JVC Everio Share Station CU-VD40 is capable of burning 60 minutes of standard definition video to a 4GB DVD. HD content is burned as data only,
The Sony DVDirect VRD-MC5 is capable of burning up to 95 minutes of 1080i video content onto a standard DVD +R/+RW disc. It can record up to 12 hours of video depending on selected quality mode. HD video uses AVCHD, a compression format which greatly reduces the size of the video while retaining its high-quality.