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January 7, 1999

Sony Announces Digital8 Video Format

for high-quality digital recording of images and sounds on Hi8 tape

    Tokyo, Japan - Sony Corporation today announced the development of Digital8, a new consumer-use video format that allows high-quality digital recording of images and sounds comparable to that of the DV format, on a conventional Hi8 tape.

    A separate release issued today by Sony Corporation announces the launch of two Digital8 camcorder models for the Japanese market, which will become available in March of this year.

    The growing popularity of digital camcorders in Japan reflects user preference for superior quality digital products, and Sony expects that this trend will continue to accelerate in the future. Moreover, many customers who purchased 8mm camcorders last year were return purchasers. Sony believes that the capability of playing back analog 8mm tapes, which allows users to enjoy existing video collections, is an important feature for camcorder products.

    The new Digital8 format offers superior quality digital images with a horizontal resolution of 500 lines, and high quality PCM 16 bit/12 bit mode digital stereo sound. Additionally, the new camcorders can play back analog 8mm tapes.

    Sony will introduce Digital8 camcorders in North America, Europe, and countries in Asia during this spring. By offering models suited for each region, Sony hopes to stimulate the growth of the worldwide camcorder market.

    With the introduction of the Digital8 camcorders, Sony aims to provide customers with high-quality digital video and sound recording capability at affordable prices. At the same time, Sony is committed to supplying customers with new DV format handycam products in a more compact size and lighter weight, in addition to being able to record digital-quality images and sounds. Sony will also continue to market analog Hi8 camcorders, offering maximum cost performance to users.

    Sony's Consumer-use Camcorder Business

    In 1985, Sony set an industry record in "compact innovation" with the launch of its first 8mm camcorder, the CCD-V8. Since then, Sony has continued to lead the home video camcorder market with improvements in size, weight, picture quality, and power consumption. As of September 1998, Sony had shipped an accumulative total of about 6 million units of 8mm camcorders in Japan, and 30 million units globally. Since 1985, the total industry-wide number of units shipped is estimated at close to 50 million throughout the world.

    Meanwhile, the DV format Digital Handycam camcorders, first introduced in 1995, has provided customers with superior picture and sound quality, portability, as well as the possibility of connecting their camcorder to a personal computer. The DV format has gained wide market acceptance, especially in Japan, where approximately 450,000 units were sold in 1996 and close to 900,000 units in 1997.

    Sony currently offers a wide selection of products in both the DV and 8mm formats, from "Stamina" to "Passport sized" models, to respond to a variety of user requirements.

    Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its music, pictures and computer entertainment operations make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of over $51 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998, and it employs 173,000 people worldwide. Sony Corporation's homepage URL.

    Main Features of the Digital8 Format

    1. New recording pattern
      While for the DV format the information for one frame is recorded onto ten tracks, with the Digital8 format two tracks' worth of information is recorded vertically onto five tracks. The use of this recording method enables digital images to be recorded on a Hi8 tape.
    2. Digital component recording
      The Digital8 format employs a digital component recording system, which separately records a wideband range of luminance(Y) and color (R-Y/B-Y) signals, to reduce color blur and improve picture quality.
    3. High quality sound recording
      The format utilizes a PCM digital stereo audio recording system in 16 bit /48kHz mode or 12 bit / 32kHz mode to reproduce dynamic stereo sound.
    4. Tape recording time
      Tape recording time for the Digital8 format differs from that of Hi8/standard 8mm due to its distinctive recording system (tape speed, etc.). The length of recordings that can be made on Hi8 tapes with the Digital8 format is approximately half of that of conventional formats:

      Types of Hi8 tapes:30 min.60 min.90 min.120 min.150 min.180 min.
      Digital8 recording time:15 min. 30 min. 45 min. 60 min. 75 min. 90 min.

    Main Specifications of the Digital8 Format

    • Luminance Signal Recording System:
    • Horizontal Resolution:
      Approx. 500 lines
    • Video Sampling Frequency:
      13.5 MHz
    • Quantization Bit Quantity:
      8 bit
    • Chrominance Signal Recording System:
    • Chroma Band Width:
      Approx. 1.5 MHz
    • Transfer Rate (video):
    • Audio Recording System:
      16 bit / 12 bit PCM
    • Tape Width:
    • Cassette Dimensions:
      95×62.5×15 (mm)
    • Recording System:
      2 rotating heads
    • Drum Rotation Speed:
      4,500 rpm
    • Tape Speed:
      28.666 mm/s
    • Track Pitch:
      16.34 µm
    • Drum Diameter:
      40 mm
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