updated 09:00 pm EDT, Tue July 27, 2010
Panasonic TA1 and SDX1 take on cheap HD
Panasonic in a special evening launch trotted out two camcorders, one of which is a first for the entire company. The HM-TA1 is its venture into the Flip's home territory and immediately claims an edge with full-speed 1080p video. The camera is unique in the class as it supports Apple's iFrame encoding: it can output its video to iMovie at 540p without having to resize until the final export.
The camera still aims at the very simple control philosophy of its Cisco rival, but it can snap eight-megapixel photos or pluck individual frames from videos. It similarly wields a rare LED light for dark scenes and uses removable cards, up to and including SDXC. Electronic image stabilization and basic color presets produce more of the intended shot, and the camera can double as a webcam for live video in apps that support it.
Gray, purple and red versions of the TA1 will ship in August for $170.
Panasonic's second camera of the night, the HDC-SDX1, uses a more traditional barrel-shaped body but is extremely light at about 0.41 pounds. It too records at 1080p and supports iFrame, but it has a lens that zooms up to 20X with optical zoom and 23X when adding a small amount of digital zoom. The camera has true optical image stabilization and has more advanced tricks such as autofocus and autoexposure tracking. A 2.7-inch touchscreen serves as the main interface.
Just a black version of the SDX1 will be available, and it will ship sometime in September for $500.