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Panasonic Bows 2nd-Generation AVC HD-Based HD Camcorders

Panasonic has introduced second-generation models of its AVDHD-based high-definition camcorders, boosting the resolution to 1920 by 1080.

The HDC-SD5 and SX5 are both 3CCD models with 30 percent more pixels than the prior 1440 by 1080 AVCHD models they replace (the SD1 and DX1).

The camcorders feature 10x optical zooms with a new optical image stabilization system that the company said offers eight times the stabilization compensation of the previous system. Both models are EZ Sync compatible and feature a new wide-angle 2.7-inch LCD screen with a two-level power function to boost brightness for outdoor viewing.

The HDC-SD5, for a suggested $999, records video to SDHC memory cards. It features a new USB Host function that lets the camcorder connect to the company’s new DVD burner (the VW-BN1 for a suggested $199) to burn HD video to traditional DVDs for playback on select Blu-ray Disc players.

The $899-suggested HDC-SX5 is a hybrid model that records to both SDHC and standard DVD discs. According to Panasonic, an 8GB SDHC card can store up to 180 minutes of video while a 3-inch DVD-R dual layer can hold an hour of HD video in HD mode (6MBps) for a total of 240 minutes of HD footage. It can transfer video from an SDHC card to a DVD internally or record standard-definition video to DVD disc in MPEG2 format.

To complement both models, Panasonic also launched an 8GB SDHC card with a Class 6 speed rating. The card will retail for a suggested $159.

Both camcorders will debut a variety of new features, among them is a new processing engine to reduce power consumption and prerecording, which captures three seconds worth of video to buffer memory prior to the start of recording. A new intelligent contrast control adjusts contrast by measuring ambient light in a scene.

The camcorders will be bundled with software for editing HD video and saving it in either AVCHD format or DVD-video format.