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Single 3-megapixel CMOS $3,500 1080i camcorder to be available this fall.

Earlier this week, Sony announced the HVR-A1U, a new addition to its HDV camcorder family. Considered a sister camcorder to the HVR-Z1U that was announced late last year, the A1 is a smaller, more affordable model. Expected to ship this fall, the 1080i camcorder will have a list price less than $3,500.

While the Z1 resembles Sony's PD170 workhorse, the new A1 looks similar to the PDX10. On the inside, however, the new camcorder uses a 1/3-inch, 3-megapixel CMOS imager and Sony's 14-bit Enhanced Imaging Processor. CMOS technology helps eliminate image smear, runs at lower voltage, consumes less power than conventional CCD-based processors, and allows a smaller form factor as CMOS produces less heat. The EIP enables the high-speed processing required for capturing HD video images.

The A1 offers many of the same features as the HVR-Z1U, such as balanced audio, XLR inputs, Zeiss lens, and SMPTE timecode. However, its smaller footprint makes this camcorder ideal for applications where space is at a premium or extreme mobility is required. In addition, the A1 allows users to take stills and save them on Memory Stick while recording video. (A consumer product counterpart, the Sony HDR-HC1 Handycam, could be available by late summer, but doesn't have XLR inputs or timecode.)

The native 16x9 camcorder can record and playback HDV, DVCAM, and DV content, with the ability to downconvert footage into SD (squeeze, crop, or letterbox). The camera doesn't record in 24p but offers a "CineFrame" recording mode. A 2.7-inch widescreen Hybrid LCD monitor and color/black-and-white selectable viewfinder are also included, both with center, safety, and 4:3 markers available. The camcorder will also features a new "tele macro" mode, which allows you to capture a macro image from a distance.