Tokyo (Japan) – Sony and Panasonic jointly developed to give the world yet another high definition video recording format – the rather catchy titled AVCHD. AVCHD uses the MPEG4 AVC/H.264 compression system, which is more efficient than the MPEG2 system that is currently used on DVDs.
The new technology will also use DVD’s – however in an 8 cm rather than in the common 12 cm form factor – and allow up to 20 minutes in a vaguely described “average quality” setting, which we only can assume will be 720p (AVCHD supports 720p and 1080i.). This compares to about 30 minutes users get off the same disc when recording conventional video, and about 60 minutes you will get when using the currently more widespread MiniDV cassettes for high definition.
The advantage of using the new compression on a DVD versus using a more spacious cassette is the random access, which decreases load times and allows users to access data on any part of the DVD at any time.
With the new compression format, it will be possible to read DVD media with high-def content in standard DVD drives, but one will need AVCHD software in order to play back the files in HD quality.
We will have to continue using DVD discs for high-def content in the near future, as Blu-ray drives are not yet small nor cheap enough, and use too much power to be viable as part of a camcorder package. However, with high-def video containing about four times the amount of data than standard video ,the need for higher-capacity storage is becoming more and more urgent.
In the meantime, Sony and Panasonic are banking on the more efficient AVCHD compression format to keep DVDs viable for high-def video recording.