Hitachi DZ-BD70A

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Hitachi DZ-BD70A

We like the idea of recording to Blu-ray discs, but consider this: If the Blu-ray format doesn’t catch on, then the DZ-BD70A might become obsolete sooner rather than later.


Hitachi’s DZ-BD70A does something that no other high-definition camcorder can do: Instead of recording video to tape, memory card, or hard drive, it captures its footage to miniature Blu-ray discs that are the same size as the mini DVDs that camcorders have used for years. Thanks to the relentless march of technology, the little Blu-ray discs can now store 7.5GB of data, which is enough to hold an hour’s worth of 1080i HD video.


Recording to a Blu-ray disc is more convenient than using tape. The camera records each scene as a file on the disc so you can quickly jump to any scene you want—no more rewinding or fast-forwarding through a long tape. The big advantage over hard drives and memory cards is that the Blu-ray discs can serve as a permanent archive of your footage. When you fill up a hard drive– or memory card–based camcorder, you need to upload its footage to your Mac’s hard drive. If you shoot a lot of video, you could start running out of drive space, and if your Mac’s drive ever crashes, you could lose all your video. But with your footage on Blu-ray discs, you’ll always have a safe copy elsewhere.


Blu-ray innovations aside, the DZ-BD70A suffers from some unfortunate problems, mostly with the surprisingly poor picture quality. We’ll say this: When you shoot outdoors in bright and even light with the camera on a tripod, it produces great pictures, worthy of the HD name. But take it off a tripod and zoom in a little with the 10x lens, and the DZ-BD70A is unusually susceptible to handheld jitter. Shoot in uneven light, and the camera clumsily struggles to change its exposure on the fly. Shoot indoors, and…well, just try not to shoot indoors. Even in a room lit by bright, natural light, the DZ-BD70A records a picture that’s missing the sharpness you expect from HD. At night, under tungsten household bulbs, you get a pixilated, blurry, dim, monochromatic mess. Our test didn’t quite look like spy camera footage—more like spy camera footage of spy camera footage.


The other major problem with the DZ-BD70A is that at press time, you can’t actually copy its video to your Mac and edit it. Even though the camera records video in the Mac-friendly H.264 codec, its files still go unrecognized by QuickTime or any Mac video software editor (and we’re not aware of any third-party utilities that can convert the video into a readable format). That means you can only watch your footage uncut on your HDTV—either by connecting the camera directly to your set, or by popping the 8cm disc into a Blu-ray player (except for the Sony PlayStation 3, which uses an incompatible slot-loading mechanism).


The bottom line. Recording to Blu-ray disc is a first, but it doesn’t make up for bad-looking video that you can’t edit. Compared to HD camcorders like the Canon HV20 (5 out of 5 stars, Dec/07, p68) or the Panasonic HDC-SD1 (4 out of 5 stars, Jan/08, p59), the DZ-BD70A just doesn’t stack up.


COMPANY: Hitachi


PRICE: $1,299


Records HD video to Blu-ray discs. Works with external mics.

Disappointing picture quality. Can’t edit video on the Mac. Bulky.





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Incorporating features like Disc Navigation and Widescreen 2.7” LCD View Finder, Hitachi DZ-BD70A Blu-ray/DVD Camcorder is just perfect to capture those memorable moments. Hitachi DZ-BD70A Blu-ray/DVD Camcorder comes with a 16:9 Widescreen Recording option. Not only this, it takes just 1 minute to start this camcorder quickly. Its one-touch finalize button can create or play DVD with a single touch of a finger.



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