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Monday, September 27, 2004
Matsushita to Launch MPEG-4 Video Models of D-snap Digital Camera Series

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, Ltd is to release the SV-AS30, a new model of its multi-purpose small digital camera series, the D-snap.

The company has coined the phrase "multi-digital camera" to describe portable equipment that can be used not only as a digital camera but also as an AV player.

Matsushita released four models from its D-snap series in October 2003, bringing various ideas to the market. The SV-AS10, for instance, has an ultra thin body, while the SV-AV50 carries moving pictures. A sales survey indicated that the SV-AS10 was the most popular model. In view of the findings of this survey, developers at the company decided to use the super-thin chassis of the SV-AS10 to incorporate almost every concept realized with other D-snap models, such as the carrying of movies, when they started working on the latest model. Matsushita was determined to keep the case within the size of that of the SV-AS10, in the belief that "the camera must fit into a pocket so that it can be carried around on a daily basis."

Small Body, Full-scale Movie at 30fps

The camera is capable of continuous video playback for 150 minutes

The SV-AS30 uses MPEG-4 to compress movies, for example. Movies shot using the SV-AS10 use MotionJPEG, at 15 frames per second. The introduction of MPEG-4 enables the SV-AS30 to playback video at 30 frames per second. It also has a number of other features in common with the SV-AV50 and the SV-AV35. However, more components are used in the SV-AS30 compared with the SV-AS10.

Matsushita developed a new still and moving image processor LSI for the SV-AS30. The battery life has been prolonged through cutting the power consumption of the LSI. The camera can be used to playback TV programs recorded on an SD Memory Card, for instance, during one's travel to the office. A 1GB memory card can be used to store 20 hours of programs, maximum. The camera can replay video for about 150 minutes.

As for the audio player, playback time has been increased to approximately 18 hours, from the 10 hours available with the SV-AV10. The camera is packed with an SD-Jukebox, as well as PC software for recording music onto the SD Memory Card.

Resolution Boosted to 3.2 Megapixels

The effective resolution of the CCD digital camera is also boosted to 3.2 megapixels from the SV-AS10's 2.0 megapixels. Because of the company's insistence on retaining the case size, the image sensor size is unchanged from the previous 1/3.2-inch. The 1.5-inch LCD monitor also remains unchanged from the previous model. Furthermore, the new model uses an identical Li-ion secondary battery, as used in the preceding model.

Matsushita is also releasing the SV-AS3, whose secondary battery capacity (and volume) is almost doubled from the previous model. The firm has placed emphasis on its audio player functionality, and has placed the volume controller on the surface. However, its camera lens does not rotate, as it is fixed. The case's thickness is 18.9mm.

The company has not set the price yet, but it seems to be aiming at a similar price as for a mobile digital music player. The SV-AS30 is likely to be priced at around 32,000 yen, while the SV-AS3 is likely to be cost around 28,000 yen at outlets.

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