In just over two months, on 25 August, a new camcorder from Hitachi will go on sale in Japan that is based on an equally new version of the DVD-RAM format.

The camcorder does away with video tape altogether and records images directly onto an 8cm DVD-RAM disk. The new disks were developed specifically for this type of application, where the conventional 12cm disks might be too large.

They are capable of storing 1.46G bytes of data per side, which works out to be around one hour of recording in high quality mode or two hours in normal quality mode, Hitachi says.

Like their 12cm cousins, the new disks are encased in a cartridge to provide protection against dirt and scratches, but to play them users will need a new type of DVD-RAM drive. The new drives are expected to go on sale at the end of June.

Advantages of the disk-based camcorder are numerous, Hitachi says. It highlights things like the ability to skip instantly to any point on the disk rather than have to mess around with rewind and forward functions, and the ability to transfer video directly from the camera to a PC using the disk.

A new feature that will be welcomed by camcorder owners who have inadvertently erased prized recordings is the camera's default setting to always use spare disk space for new recordings, rather than overwriting existing ones.

The camera has a 1.1 million pixel, 1/4 inch CCD (charge coupled device) optical pick up. In video mode the effective area is 720,000 pixels, while in still picture mode it is 1 million pixels, says Hitachi. Other features include a 12x optical zoom lens and a 48x digital zoom.