Digital video camera makers are integrating 3D capability, and bolstering zoom and data transmission.
High definition is increasingly driving production in China’s digital video camera industry. Output of models adopting the technology is steadily rising as makers play catch-up with other industries already shifting to HD, in particular TVs. Even small players are looking to step up, buoyed by continued breakthroughs and device rollouts from international giants such as Sony, Samsung and Panasonic.
|The DVH-B01 model from Global supports HD format and features an electronic image stabilizer.|
A growing number of suppliers, including Global Products Industry Ltd and Shenzhen Sunday Technology Co. Ltd, are devoting the bulk of manufacture to this type. About 95 percent of the former’s yield constitutes HD cameras, while it is 90 percent at Shenzhen Sunday.
The DVH-B01 model from Global delivers 1080p/30fps and 720p 30/60fps AVI and 20MP still-image capture. It has a 3in touchscreen, 12x optical zoom, an HDMI port and TV-out. A remote control is bundled with the device.
The HDV-56006 model from Winait Technologies Ltd supports video capture and full HD at 1080p/30fps and 720p/30fps playback, and still-image capture at 16MP. It incorporates 8x digital zoom, a 3in widescreen LCD, USB 2.0, TV-out, an HDMI port and a 32GB SD/SDHC card. HD variants currently represent about 30 percent of the company’s total video camera yield. HD releases from China makers target the midrange and high-end sectors. Most are shipped to Europe and North America.
R&D efforts are likewise geared toward enabling 3D capability and other functions, and improving external designs. For the first, companies are investing in software and hardware upgrades, although they admit the objective will need more time to get realized. Some, however, have released units with 3D. One example is the HDV-TD101 model from Winait, which also supports 720p. It has a 2.4in 3D LCD, two 5MP CMOS sensors, two microphones and an HDMI port. The DVX-5F9 model from Global enables 3D AVI video capture, and 1080 and 720p playback. It also allows 5MP 3D still-image capture and playback. The product has a 3.2in parallax barrier auto-stereoscopic LCD.
Aside from HD and 3D, some makers are integrating projectors. Aigo Digital Technology Co. Ltd, for example, has developed the AHD-X8 model with a built-in mini projector that can deliver 16MP still images and 720 and 1080p videos. It has a 3in touchscreen and 8x optical zoom.
Many businesses are bolstering the optical zoom to enhance video capture. Aigo’s AHD-Z50 model features 23x optical and 120x digital. The unit captures images with up to 16MP and H.264 AVI 1080p/30fps videos. It incorporates a 3in touchscreen, slow-motion capture, time lapse, HDMI and TV-out ports, and motion detector. To enable high-speed data transmission, enterprises are turning to HDMI and USB 3.0.
For other manufacturers, branching out into the automotive electronics and gifts and promotional markets is another option to boost sales. Vehicle-use video cameras, in particular, are rising in supply in response to the robust global car industry.
The DV530 model from Shenzhen Sunday can automatically monitor and capture videos when the car starts.. The unit has a 2.7in TFT LCD, lens with a 180-degree rotating angle, motion detector and HDMI. It delivers 16MP images and 1080 and 720p videos. The maker is planning to develop water-resistant varieties. As for design enhancements, suppliers are exploring different styles, although the traditional black exterior remains strong. New units come in animal shapes with water resistance and solar power generation capability. KM Technology Co. Ltd uses petal patterns on its DV21 model.
Entry-level products take up 60 percent of China’s output in the line. These units use CMOS sensors, and have 1.5 to 2.5in LCDs and 8x digital zoom. The resolutions are 5MP for still images and D1 for videos, with files in JPEG, MP3, WAV, WMA and AVI formats.
Housed mostly in ABS or aluminum alloy, the devices also pack games, e-book readers, USB and TV-out ports, SD/MMC slots, earphone jacks, microphones and speakers. They run on AA, AAA or Li-ion batteries.
Midrange cameras account for 30 percent of production. Models in this segment adopt CMOS sensors like basic counterparts, but have bigger LCDs at 2.5 to 3in. Besides 8x digital zoom, they deliver 5x optical. The resolutions are 8MP and 720p for images and videos, respectively.
Devices read GIF, BMP, AAC, M-JPEG and MPEG-4 files. They come with HDMI ports, touch buttons, remote controls and prerecording capability.
High-end releases are typically water-resistant and made of titanium alloy. These adopt CMOS or CCD sensors and 2.5 to 3.5in LCDs, and deliver 10MP or higher image and 1080p video resolutions. The digital and optical zoom values are 10 and 8x. The products work with RM/RMVB and MOV formats. They boast touchscreens, time lapse, motion detector, Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi.
The LCD panels, lenses, CMOS and CCD sensors, and NAND flash memory are the key components for the manufacture of digital video cameras. The first two inputs are sourced from local and Taiwan providers. CMOS and CCD are purchased from the US and Taiwan.
Mainland China turn to Japan and South Korea partners for their NAND flash requirement. Some anticipate a shortage in supply due to the recent earthquake in northern Japan.
Most interviewed enterprises predict prices will remain stable in the next six months as competition tightens. Any upward adjustments will stem from increases in raw material and labor costs, the appreciation of the yuan, and the impact of a shortfall in inputs coming from Japan.
Driven by a recovering global economy, China’s exports of digital video cameras have been on the upswing since last year. Global consumer shipments hit 13 million units in 2010, up 21 percent YoY according to Digitimes Research.
Makers expect overseas sales to remain stable or increase by at least 5 percent in the next six to 12 months. Companies, however, admit growth will hinge on their capability to break into the international market and remain competitive, particularly pricewise.
Exports usually go to Europe and North America. The two areas absorb about 80 percent of KM’s and Shenzhen Sunday’s outbound shipments. The former predicts orders from the regions will be steady. Shenzhen Sunday, meanwhile, forecasts a 5 percent climb in foreign trade in 2H11.
A few makers are anxious the debt crisis in Europe might slow down orders from the region. As for the political turmoil in the Middle East, many are cushioning the impact by working with local agents to market their products.
Most digital video cameras from Hong Kong are high-definition models supporting 1080p 30fps or 720p 60fps. VGA or lower resolution is limited to entry-level releases. Mainstream units boast 5MP CMOS image sensors and H.264 compression, with top-of-the-line versions packing stereo sound recording and touchscreens. The majority allows digital zoom, although some enable up to 12x optical.
To ride the multifunction trend in other consumer electronics lines, manufacturers are integrating flashlight. Several releases double as USB flash drives.
The predominant screens are 3, 2.7, 2.4 and 2in LTPS LCDs. Besides the built-in memory, almost all products from the territory incorporate SD or microSD slots for storage expansion, and a few variants even come with dual card slots. Most also have HDMI ports and A/V-out.
Some suppliers have released water-resistant, rugged models for sports and outdoor enthusiasts. These are usually compact and lightweight. Wearable units that can be mounted on a helmet, bicycle or goggles are likewise available. Novelty sunglasses types are on offer as well.
Makers are upgrading bundled software to improve product applications, with programs enabling direct upload to YouTube becoming increasingly popular. To save on molding costs, many companies use the same housing designs despite feature and function enhancements. A few suppliers invest in fresh molds for every new series. For variety, the outer shells can be printed with argyle or other fashionable patterns. Some ride the environmental trend by touting eco-friendly casings and low power consumption.
Hong Kong remains a dynamic source of cost-competitive, export-quality digital video cameras. Suppliers accept OEM and ODM projects, but also promote in-house brands that are shipped in attractive individual packaging.
Aigo Digital Technology Co. Ltd
Company: Global Products Industry Ltd
KM Technology Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Sunday Technology Co. Ltd
Sky Light Digital Ltd
Winait Technologies Ltd
Note: This article "HD, other value add-ons invigorate the digital video camera line" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to- business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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