Panasonic launches new HD camcorders and 32GB SD card

Panasonic dropped the HD bomb in Vegas yesterday with a batch of smoking hot new camcorders -- one of which you can use underwater -- and a whopping 32GB flash card

It's a warm day here in Las Vegas, Nevada, but thankfully the jam-packed Panasonic press conference was air conditioned. Hurrah! Pana's chairman and CEO, Yoshi Yamada, took to the stage to tell us all about the company's "leading position" in the HDTV market. But of course he'd say that, wouldn't he?

Before his cheery, red-bloused American cohort talked us through the company's new products, Yamada discussed Panasonic's new recycling initiative, the Electronic Manufacturing Recycling Management Corp, a 'Green Team' comprising not only Panasonic, but Hitatchi, Sanyo, Mitsubishi and JVC, among others.

The initiative aims to make it easier for manufacturers to effectively recycle old products. This is just one of what we expect to be many moves to 'greenify' the tech industry this year, something our pals at SmartPlanet will surely cheer.

Naturally, HDTV and HD camcorders were at the forefront of today's conference, so let's have a first look at some snazzy camcorders coming from Panasonic this year...

This is Panasonic's new HDC-SD9 camcorder. It boasts 3CCDs, full 1080p HD recording and it's pitched as the world's smallest and lightest SD-based HD camcorder on the market.

The Advanced Mega OIS (optical image stabilisation) is apparently eight times more effective at stabilising images, by checking and compensating for shaking a whopping 4,000 times every second.

More interesting still is the camera's adoption of facial recognition, a feature previously found only in digital still cameras. As with still cameras, the SD9's system automatically locates the whereabouts of faces on-screen and adjusts exposure and contrast, to help you shoot a better quality video. High fives all round, we say.

Other features include 5.1 surround-sound recording thanks to a bunch of built-in microphones, and high-speed burst shooting for those of you wanting to take up to 24 still images a second.

The HDC-SD9 will be on sale around March this year for an expected price of about $800 (£400), though you can bet your rear end we'll end up paying more than the Yanks.

Above the HDC-SD9 in terms of specifications is the HDC-HS9, another 1080p, 3CCD HD camcorder. But there's an important difference.

The HS9 is a hybrid HD camcorder, using both SD-based storage and a 60GB hard disk. With 32GB SD cards on the horizon (which we'll come to shortly), this memory-hungry monster can record 1080p HD video to almost 100GB of on-board memory, roughly 30 hours of hi-def shooting.

In addition, video recorded to SD can be copied over to the hard drive, or vice versa, with just a push of a button.

Like its little brother the SD9, the HS9 boasts face recognition, 5.1 surround sound and high-speed burst shooting. It'll also be on sale in March for around $1,100 (£550).

Next up are the SDR-H60 and SDR-H40, two hybrid camcorders, featuring SD card storage and either 60GB or 40GB hard disk capacities.

Both models feature face detection as seen in the most costly SD9 and HS9 models, and Panasonic's Advanced Mega OIS image stabilisation. The only significant difference between the two, aside from hard disk capacities, is optical zoom specifications. The H60 has a 50x optical zoom, while the H40 has a slightly reduced 42x.

Anti-shock technology is employed to protect the internal hard disks, making these camcorders much more suitable for sports filming or any shooting conditions where knocks and bumps are more likely to affect the cameras.

The H60 will be available in May this year for around $550 (£275), while the H40 will be available in January for around $450 (£225).

Also announced today was the Panasonic VDR-D50, a DVD-based camcorder. Unlike the models we've just seen, the D50 doesn't feature SD card storage or an internal hard disk drive.

However, features that have been carried over into this model include the new face detection system and the advanced image stabilisation ability.

It'll be available in January for around $350 (£175).

The PV-GS90 is pretty much the same as the VDR-D50, but instead of DVDs, the GS90 uses standard MiniDV tapes to store video. Face detection comes as standard, as does the optical image stabilisation feature seen in the most expensive new models.

Expect availability of the GS90 in February for around $280 (£140).

The penultimate new camcorder announced today is the waterproof SDR-SW20. Like most of today's new models, the SW20 records to SD cards. Unlike others though, you can submerge this chap to a depth of 2m. And, with shock absorption as standard, it'll survive drops from up to 1.3m, or tussles with some fairly nasty sharks.

It's also got a 10x optical zoom, a 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen and it comes in red. Red, people! Who doesn't want a red camcorder? Well, if you don't, it also comes in silver. But that's nowhere near as funky.

What it doesn't have is optical image stabilisation or a face detection feature. But how many faces are you going to need to detect in the Great Barrier Reef?

Either colour will be available in February for around $400 (£200).

The very last camcorder we're going to look at today is the new SDR-S7, an ultra-compact SD-based model aimed at people constantly on the go or, if you're from Brixton, constantly on the run.

Like the SW20 it's got a 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen and a 10x optical zoom, but it also lacks face detection features and optical image stabilisation.

The S7 will be available in May this year for around $300 (£150).

Last but not least, and certainly worth a quick mention, is the new class 6 SD card, featuring a massive 32GB of flash memory. There's no release date as of yet, but Panasonic promises to reveal availability details very soon.

Don't forget to check out all our CES coverage, including video hands-ons, first looks at the most exciting new technology and a whole heap of Vegas-related shenanigans, by visiting and bookmarking ces.cnet.co.uk.

Now where did I leave my Vegas wife? -Nate Lanxon

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Is your phone battery always at 4 percent?

These battery packs will give your device the extra juice to power through all of those texts and phone calls.