This is actually the second MiniDisc digicam from Sony, the first was only release in Japan and didn't do terribly well.. I saw an article on this a few days ago on a Japanese site but was waiting for a US press release. Well, it's here so you can get the low down. The good news? The MD Data2 discs can store 650MB of data and you can get an optional Ethernet connector for the camera. The bad news? It's aimed more at the MPEG2 fans as it only has basic resolution, oh and the camera's priced at US$2,299.

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Here's the official press release

Sony announced today a disc-based digital camcorder with video capture and editing capabilities all in the same unit. This breakthrough product, MD Discam� digital camcorder (DCM-M1), takes advantage of MiniDisc (MD) technology to give consumers the versatility and convenience of instant random access - now with video. Disc-based video gives consumers the speed and freedom to quickly edit video, not possible with linear tape-based video systems.

MD Discam offers an unprecedented home movie-recording-and-editing experience with intuitive, easy-to-use and creative controls, including:

  • touch-screen controls to enjoy the speed and convenience of Scene Shuffle�, and non-linear editing with index images of video scenes;
  • easy-to-understand menus with user hints for playback and edit functions, such as "touch a track to copy;"
  • titling and special effects, including scene transitions to give home movies a more professional look;
  • touch-screen, pen-based handwriting for instant titling and paint-type graphics;
  • Sony camcorder InfoLithium� rechargeable battery with AccuPower� Meter system that indicates the amount of power remaining in minutes on the LCD screen;
  • Super Steadyshot� Picture Stabilization which removes camera shake;
  • easy connection to a television with Audio/Video out jacks; and
  • crystal clear slow motion playback.

"The MD Discam camcorder lets people create and edit the movies they truly want to watch without scanning hours of footage to find their favorite moments," said Jay Sato, vice president of digital imaging marketing at Sony Electronics. "It is an all-in-one video capturing and editing camcorder that offers a fast and easy PC-free editing experience."

The MD Discam camcorder records up to 20 minutes of video, up to 4,500 still images in MPEG2 file format, and more than four hours (260 minutes) of recorded audio with three digital still images in Interview Mode. The image quality of MD Discam video delivers more than 400 lines of horizontal resolution.

MD Discam camcorder uses MD Data2 media, called MD View (MMD-650A), which was developed to handle the high capacity video storage needs of the MD Discam camcorder. It holds 650 MB of audio/video re-writable data. Building on its developments in magneto optical technology, Sony designed MD View to expand the benefits of the MiniDisc format to a visual medium for the first time. Although not the same format, MD View and MiniDisc audio media share the benefits of instant random access playback, quick and easy editing and digital recording.

No More Lengthy Tapes to Watch

Scene Shuffle editing with the MD Discam camcorder is easy and intuitive. Users no longer have to rewind or fast forward movies with Scene Shuffle, because it lets them do on-the-spot editing. On-screen controls let users play, copy, move, trim, or erase scenes at the touch of the stylus to the screen. Changing the order of scenes, erasing, copying and more can be accomplished in seconds.

An index window on the LCD screen shows the starting image of each scene to let users mark each video segment for editing.

The MD Discam camcorder offers a number of ways to digitally edit scenes, including: Copy, Cut, Delete, Trim, Divide, Group and Combine. Here is how some of the editing features might be used:

  • If users Copy a scene segment, it can then be repeated anywhere in the video. Imagine repeating footage of a baby's delightful laugh again and again throughout a home movie compilation of a child's first few years.
  • Special moments of a home movie are often embedded in the middle of lengthy footage. The Trim function lets users set a new start and end point to select the portion of the scene they want to pare down.
  • The Group function takes two or more consecutive tracks and plays them as one track.

To add to the fun and creativity of shooting and editing home movies, Sony built-in a number of professional-looking transitional effects to give camcorder users eye-catching ways to transition from scene to scene. Some transitional effects that can be inserted between tracks include: Wipes, Dissolves, Mosaic and Fades.

As Easy as Using a Pen

MD Discam camcorder comes with a handy stylus to operate on-screen functional control or to hand-write notes, drawings or add simple clip-art graphics in one's home movies. Because the notes or graphics are not embedded in the recorded scene, they can be deleted with the stroke of the pen.

Another graphics function is Titling, which allows users to create their own titles (up to 100 characters) across the center of the image.

Playback The Way You Want To

Just as music enthusiasts may repeat a favorite track on a compact disc or create a play list of favorite songs, MD Discam camcorder gives users the ability to playback scenes the way they want to view them. The camcorder has a variety of playback options, including: Repeat Play, A/B Repeat, Shuffle Play and Nine-Frame Sequence.

One can repeat a single scene, all the scenes or any portion of a scene segment throughout the movie, show the scene in a random sequence with Shuffle Play or display nine consecutive frames from any scene with Nine-Frame Sequence.

With Nine-Frame Sequence, for example, golfers will have a new way to analyze their own or a friend's swing by displaying any nine consecutive frames recorded with the MD Discam camcorder.

Unique to MD Discam camcorder is a variable-rate Crystal Clear Slow Motion Playback function that lets users enjoy a frame-by-frame slow motion viewing of any video sequence.

Because the MD Discam camcorder is an expansion of MiniDisc audio technology, pre-recorded MD audio discs can also be played back in the unit for convenience. Play lists of the artist's name and track appear on the LCD.

With an optional Ethernet card, MD Discam connects to a PC so users can save JPEG still images to their system's hard drive.

The MD Discam will be available in January at consumer electronics retailers and through Sony VAIO Direct and is expected to sell for $2,299. One MD View disc comes with the camcorder and additional discs will be available the estimated selling prices of $14.99.