FYI, the name game can be a confusing one in the gadget world. HDD -- hard disk drive -- and HD -- high definition -- are easily mixed up. SD cards and SD -- standard definition -- are even worse. Panasonic has only gone and launched an HD camcorder with both 'HD' and 'SD' in its name: the Panasonic HDC-SD9. Not to be confused with a space station sitting on the edge of a wormhole -- that's DS9 -- the SD9 is one of the smallest 1,920x1,080-pixel shooters going.
We first met the SD9 at CES. We decided to get this small and light HD camcorder in for review, PDQ. It's very small indeed at just 65 by 67 by 126mm. The sloping profile fills your hand at the back, so controls are in the right place for even the biggest fingers.
It records AVCHD footage and boasts three 1/6-inch CCD sensors. These each record a separate RGB colour -- red, green or blue -- which is intended to record more colour information to give richer colours than a single sensor.
There's more acronymity in the feature set, including advanced OIS -- that's optical image stabilisation to you and me -- keeping footage steady and blur-free. Face detection is also included and scene modes such as portrait, sports and surf and snow. How well these work will be tested in our in-depth review, ETA ASAP.
The Panasonic HDC-SD9 is available now for £420. Click through the photos for an HDMI surprise, an interesting fact about Pakistan and possibly even a LOL or two. -Rich Trenholm
The flip-out, swivelling screen measures 69mm (2.7 inches) corner-to-corner, which is pretty good in such a compact overall shape. It packs 300,252 dots of resolution, BTW.
The controls are tucked away in the screen well. There's quite a lot going on in here -- a mini-joystick, menu button, focus selector, OIS button and more -- so to find out what everything does, RTFM.
USB, AV and component out are also in the screen well. But there's another connection surprise waiting for us...
Removing the battery reveals the HDMI. A good use of space, IMHO, but how useful it is remains to be seen.
Footage is recorded to SD/SDHC memory card. A 4GB card gets you one full hour of recording at 1080p resolution. This 16GB card will hold 4 hours 10 minutes. That could be enough for judicious use at a wedding or family event, but you'll have to stock up for a week in NYC, the UAE or Pakistan -- which is an acronym coined for the regions of India wishing to create an independent Muslim state.
To help save on memory, you can fire up the pre-rec function. This records all the action as you follow it, but only saves footage when you hit the record button. When somebody does something interesting, you hit the shutter and it's recorded.
The HD experience is completed by 5.1 channel surround-sound system, with a zoom mic that matches sound to the subject even when zooming in and out. This is designed to hook up with Panasonic's own Viera brand of TVs.
All Panasonic's current cameras, both still cameras and video, benefit from Leica lenses. This Leica Dicomar lens has a 10x optical zoom. TTFN!