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Panasonic HD Camcorders Target The Pocket

8/02/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

SECAUCUS, N.J. — Panasonic introduced
last week a pair of FullHD camcorders
including a pocket cam with
built-in Skype video conferencing capability
that is tailored to Apple computer
users.

The new models are part of Panasonic’s
latest compact camcorder offerings,
providing easy uploading of stills
and videos to YouTube and social-networking
sites.

The HDC-SDX1 ($500 suggested
retail) features horizontal design styling
with a side-mounted flip-out 2.7-
inch (230,400-dot) widescreen LCD
monitor, up to 1080/30 fps FullHD
video recording in AVCHD format,
up to 2.9-megapixel still resolution,
SD card slot with support for SDXC
expanded capacity cards, 3.32-megapixel
MOS sensor, 16.8x optical zoom
lens with up to 35.8-716mm 35mm
film equivalent, up to 23x digital zoom
and a hybrid optical image stabilization
system.

It also offers simultaneous shooting
of video and still images and the ability
to grab still frames out of recorded video
sequences.

Addressing the fastest-growing
segment of the low-end camcorder
market, Panasonic introduced the
HM-TA1 pocket camcorder. The
company bills the unit as a “Shoot
& Share” camcorder, playing up the
product’s ability to easily shoot stills
and video and quickly up load the results
to friends and family via email
and various social-networking sites,
including Facebook and YouTube.

The camcorder was also designed to
work as a webcam for use with Skype
video conferencing, and comes pre-installed
with supporting software for
that function. It will support Pansonic’s
new Skype TVs, but only with SD
resolution.

The TA1 features a candy bar design
style, a built-in 2-inch 153,600-
dot LCD monitor, a 4x digital zoom
and a MOS sensor. It will produce up
to FullHD 1080p/30 fps video resolution
and 8-megapixel stills (plus up
to 5-megapixel still-frame grabs out of
video sequences).

In addition the tiny camcorder support’s
the Apple iFrame standard,
which is a constraint of the H.264 codec
developed to ensure ease of consumer
video editing.

iFrame specifies a 540p/30 parameter
that is one-half the spatial resolution
of 1080p in each direction, one-quarter
the total number of pixels. However,
the progressive scanning allows for a
higher-quality image than conventional
standard-definition sources.

The reduced file size of the iFrame
system is said to make it easier and
quicker to share videos, particularly
with Mac users. The iFrame format is
supported by iMovie software on Apple
computers.

To play up the expanded Apple compatibility
of the camcorder, Apple will
be demonstrating the camcorder in
Apple stores, said Christopher Rice,
Panasonic camcorders senior product
manager. The TA1 will also be sold
through Apple.com as well as Amazon
and other online e-commerce sites.

For enhanced indoor or night-time
shooting the TA1 includes a builtin
LED light to capture images in the
camera’s field of view under dimly lit
conditions.

Also included is a built-in USB connector
to transfer files to the PC and
charge the unit’s battery. An A/V output
is provided for connection to TVs.
However no HDMI port was included.

In explaining the omission, Panasonic
cited research showing that only
about 5 percent of pocket-style camcorder
users connect their cameras to
TVs for play back, opting instead to
view images on PCs, from DVDs and
on the camcorder screen itself.