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Panasonic's affordable SDR-H101 is a bulky camcorder by most standards (55.1x64.0x107.3mm and 273 grams), but that's because it's a hybrid SD card and hard disk drive model, and all of that technology takes up both space and weight. The physical layout is well balanced, for the most part. We tested the SDR-H101 concurrently with the smaller, and where that camcorder had difficulty in spacing out its record button next to the bulky battery, the designers of the SDR-H101 have allowed a more generous finger spacing. The one consequence of that decision is that the battery juts out from the back of the entire camcorder. It's only an aesthetic thing, but it does look odd.
Where many consumer camcorders (including a lot of Panasonic's own range) opt for a touchscreen, the SDR-H101 opts instead for a simple small joystick control on the side of the camcorder's 2.7-inch LCD screen.
With many camcorders — even at the entry level — starting to adopt high-definition recording as standard, it's rather surprising to discover that the SDR-H101 doesn't manage it. That can be a double-edged sword; many low-end "HD" camcorders do a ham-fisted job of high definition anyway, but the SDR-H101 will top out at a 720x576 10Mbps H.264 video capture in XP mode. Those wishing to eke out more video recording time can drop that bit rate to 5Mbps or 2.5Mbps, respectively, in SP and LP modes.