Sony introduced its first high-definition robotic camera on Thursday. The unit is designed for videoconferencing, distance learning, houses of worship and corporate training purposes.

The single chip-based camera features multi-format capabilities to output both standard- and high-definition video, the company said. The unit, dubbed the EVI-HD1, incorporates a 10x optical zoom lens with a 70-degree horizontal field of view. It is also equipped with high-torque, high-speed direct drive motors that can be operated by remote, the company said.

Conference rooms everywhere are going HD, and this new camera makes the transition easy with the flip of a switch - literally, said Sony Electronics' Ken LaMarca, director of marketing for visual imaging products. The camera's flexibility let's users decide how and when they wish to migrate to high-definition. The camera can meet SD systems' needs today, while still being compatible with tomorrow's HD systems.

The unit builds upon Sony's EVI lineup, which includes the EVI-D100 model. The EVI-HD1 HD camera will be available in January through authorized Sony distributors and resellers at a suggested list price of $4,495.