Richard Baguley at Macworld provides a good overview of AVCHD, the high-definition video format introduced by Sony and Panasonic and available in a set of new camcorders from Sony that I mentioned earlier this week.
This all sounds good so far: We’ve got high-def video and high-quality sound in a format that doesn’t take up much space. But it does take more space than standard-definition video. According to Sony, the maximum amount of sound and video you’ll be able to fit on a single-layer DVD using the DCR-UX1 at the maximum quality setting is a meager 15 minutes. Standard-def DVD camcorders can hold around 20 minutes at their maximum quality. You’ll be able to increase that to an hour on the Sony HDR-UX1 by lowering the quality and using the recently announced double-layer 8cm DVD discs, but how well the quality holds up at the lower-quality settings remains to be seen.
Another wrinkle comes when you want to do something with the video: The new format is incompatible with existing high-definition camcorders and editing systems. At the moment, most software will be unable to read the discs or files that the new camcorders produce.