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The hybrid imager also takes a bit of a stylistic leap with a vertical layout that is designed to "provide more surface area to access both the menu navigation buttons and two "hot" buttons for direct access to recording stills and video." The compact, matte-black frame is 4.5" x 2.5" x 1.1" with a 2.5," 123K pixel LCD monitor. The LCD screen is sculpted for flexibility, rotating 270 degrees on a swivel hinge.
There are buttons along the perimeter of the LCD screen that are also dualistic in nature, shifting their function depending on the positioning of the monitor; when the LCD is extended, the buttons will control recording as well as toggle between video and still modes. Conversely, when the screen is locked into the back of the camera frame facing outwards, the unit becomes a viewing station, with the LCD buttons navigating through playback functions.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M1 is equipped with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 3x optical zoom lens that will operate the zoom in video mode. This is a crucial feature, functioning much more like a camcorder then a digital camera and working to distinguish the DSC-M1 from other video-focused digital cameras.
The Cyber-shot DSC-M1 improves video performance by employing a new MPEGMovie 4TV (MPEG-4) compression format, designed to enhance video quality while reducing image size. The size reduction results from a condensed bit rate of 2.5Mpbs (from 11Mpbs) that will allow the DSC-M1 to capture 27 minutes of VGA video at 30 frames per second with stereo sound onto a 512 MB Memory Stick PRO Duo media card or 54 minutes at the same resolution to a 1 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo card that is set for availability shortly.
Speed is a particular emphasis on the DSC-M1, utilizing Sony’s Real Imaging Processor circuit to increase start-up and shooting times. With instantaneous automatic focus, exposure and white balance settings, this hybrid imager is set for spontaneous usage, recording fleeting moments as they arise.
The DSC-M1 is packaged with a customized Cyber-shot station USB cradle for recharging ease and effortless downloading. There is software included that will convert MPEG-4 clips into AVI format for simple editing and transferal.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M1 is set to hit the holiday craze with a December release, retailing for roughly US$600.