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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.
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