tuesday 1

I’m sorry. Sony has a weird persona. In my mind, the polar opposite of Apple. Sony is obviously living on a different planet.  Where Apple presentations are straight forward, take no prisoners, “I not only know this application, but I helped develop the algorithms used”, Sony’s robot-like, plastic model/presenters, reel off memorized bits of info one step above gibberish. Regardless, the company does make some good products, and it looks like the XDCam EX, available later this year, might be one of those. A small HD camera with half inch imagers that will record any flavor of HD at any frame rate to a pair of new SxS express card flash modules developed by SanDisk. The presenters pointed out ad nauseam the inferiority of the Panasonic P2 system compared to these second generation express cards. Panasonic is locked into the old profile CardBus system: larger, slower, and more expensive.

The XDCam EX is a break from the blu-ray optical disk recording media Sony is using in its broadcast line of XDCam’s. I’ve always liked the idea of the optical disk, however.  Despite early  questions about stability, recording to optical disk always seemed smart. It’s tapeless, with fewer mechanical tape transport issues. Each clip immediately transferable as a digital file with all the requisite metadata and Instantly archived on a very thin, relatively inexpensive disk that is small and easily stored. The only questions that remain involve image quality: camera and codec. Along these lines, Sony has announced the HDW-790P a 2/3-inch camera recording to a dual layer blu-ray disk at 50 Mbps. The higher bitrate is said to compare favorably to Sony’s own HDCam tape format.  For more information on Sony’s view of the future of XDCam .  .  .

Meanwhile, Panasonic’s booth had large plasma displays doing a side by side comparison of their DVCPro HD codec next to the XDCam HD Long GOP at 35Mbps. Water flowing over rocks with all sorts of moving detail. The mpeg was clearly breaking down a bit. Sony claims the demo was completely bogus as they use a different implementation of the codec.  Let the wars continue.