If you are currently in the marketplace for a new high definition camcorder and it’s been more than five years since you purchased your last camcorder, or perhaps you have never bought a camcorder before, then you are going to come across a relatively new term called AVCHD.

It's a term you should understand when buying a new camcorder so in this Digital Home HDTV FAQ article I answer the question - What is AVCHD?

AVCHD, which stands for Advanced Video Codec High Definition, is a high-definition (HD) digital video camera recorder format, created by Sony and Panasonic in May 2006.

The format employs MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) codec for video compression, and Dolby Digital (AC-3) or Linear PCM for the audio codec. Using an AVCHD camcorder, videographers are able to record about one hour of high definition recording on a 4GB SDHC flash memory Card.

AVCHD recordings can be transferred to a computer by connecting the camcorder via the USB connection. Many camcorders can record to removable media like SDHC and Memory Stick cards or DVD discs, which can be directly read on a computer. The good news for HDTV owners in 2011 is that thanks to an increasing acceptance of the format by the consumer electronics industry, many new HDTV's now have microSD slots which will accept and playback memory cards with AVCHD recordings on them.

The result is that HDTV owners can record home movies in high definition and play them back in high definition without going near a computer or even having to hook their camcorder up to their television.

In addition to employing advanced audio and video compression techniques, AVCHD includes features which improve media presentation such as menu navigation, slide shows and subtitles. The menu navigation system is similar to DVD-video thereby allowing access to individual videos from a common intro screen.

AVCHD was originally conceived by Sony as a codec for use on 3.2-inch (80mm) optical discs similar to Mini CD and MiniDVD which would compete with handheld video camera recording formats like MiniDV.

After consultation with other member of the consumer electronics industry, Panasonic and Sony made a smart decision by including memory cards (SD and Memory Stick) and hard disk drives as applicable recording media for the format.

The format is now used in high definition camcorders from all the major brands including Canon, JVC, Panasonic and Sony. Although not part of the Blu-Ray specification, many Blu-ray players such as those from Oppo, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, all the playback of AVCHD discs.

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