When summer finally drops over Britain, like a blanket made of ice cream and sunburn, there are two types of people: those driven to the debilitating brink of eye-streaming, nose-gushing insanity by hay fever, and everyone else. Either way, you can distract yourself from the misery of the sunny months with a shiny new gadget -- and today's suggestion is the Panasonic HDC-HS200 high-definition camcorder.

Panasonic has proved itself hard to beat in both the camera and camcorder sphere, with the HDC-HS100 setting the bar high for the HS200. Like all Panny models, it's built to last, with excellent build quality and a brick-like feel.

The HS200 is a hybrid model, with two methods of recording MPEG4-AVC/H.264 video and stills. As well as SD and SDHC, it packs an 80GB hard drive.

Features include optical image stabilisation, pre-record and an intelligent auto mode to take over the running of things -- like the autopilot in Airplane but less frisky. Click through our gallery for more lovely, lovely pictures and details.

The HS200 packs three 1/4.1-inch CMOS sensors. They record 1,920x1,080-pixel HD video in 16:9 ratio, and can also fire 8.3-megapixels at the same time.
Front and centre is a 4-48mm Leica 12x zoom lens. Next to that is the video lamp and flash for stills.
The HS200 records 5.1 channel sound through a stereo microphone up top.
Footage is captured to a 80GB hard disk drive, which can transfer files to a SD or SDHC card.
SD cards live in the screen well, beneath the HDMI, component and A/V connections.
The 69mm (2.7-inch) screen includes secondary controls on the bezel.
It's also a touchscreen, hence the included pokey-tappy implement. Stylus, that's the word we were looking for.
Also included is a remote control, which will control the camera and connected Panasonic Viera televisions.
The Panasonic SDC-HS200 is out now for around £780.


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