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Video Cameras forum


What laptop to buy to work well with my high-def camcorder?

by aehamilton5 / April 18, 2012 4:10 AM PDT

When I download my video from my high-def Panasonic camcorder to my 5-year-old desktop the video playback is very choppy. I'm going to buy a new laptop and wondering what type I need in order for the video to play properly? I'd only use the new laptop for a little bit of video editing, web surfing. No gaming. Thanks very much for any help.

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Clarification Request
What is the
by boya84 / April 18, 2012 6:56 AM PDT

model number of the "high def Panasonic camcorder"? Is it hard disc drive, flash memory or miniDV tape based?

Generally, playback is relatively easy - using VLC player. Editing - even "a little" - is editing, so that is what you will need to build towards because that is the hard part. Any relatively recent multi-core processor and 4-gig RAM should be fine... The question then becomes with what would you like to edit?

iMovie is bundled with Apple Macintosh OSX. MovieMaker is bundled with Windows. Current versions can deal with AVCHD compressed video (which comes from hard disc drive or flash memory camcorders). If the computer hardware has a working firewire port, then HDV format video from miniDV tape or HDV external recorder add-ons to miniDV tape camcorders work.

If your Panny records MOD format high definition video, then transcoding (with the likes of MPEG Streamclip or HandBrake - among others) is an intermediate step before the editor can do anything with the video. Some camcorders record to MTS files - sometimes the transcoding step is needed...

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by aehamilton5 / April 18, 2012 1:13 PM PDT
In reply to: What is the

It's the HDC-TM60 and it has 16GB memory built-in and I can add a 64GB SDXC card. I want to add music and titles to footage I take at hockey games. I think the sofware provided by Panasonic should be good for that.

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Thank you for the additional information.
by boya84 / April 19, 2012 2:20 AM PDT
In reply to: TM60

The Panasonic HDC-TM60 was a mid-range consumer camcorder introduced in the 2010 timeframe. It captures video at a relatively high compression rate (best quality is 17 mbps), and generally speaking, fast action and high compression do not get along very well - but that is not your reason for the discussion.

For a new laptop, I stick by my original recommendation - any laptop made in the last couple of years with a multi-core CPU and a minimum of 4 gig RAM will do - more RAM and faster CPU is definitely better. Since Playback is not the "lowest common denominator" (editing is - whether only a "little" or not), you need to be sure the computer hardware and software can deal with the high compression and demands of dealing with high definition video.

Typically, laptops are not manufactured to be video editing workstations - and while I understand that is not what you intend or require, you do need to be aware of why... The hard disc drive, CPU and monitor backlight are the major users of power. Typically, the internal hard drives of laptops are made to spin at a lower rate than desktop or external drives because the faster spin means more power use. As well, faster CPUs (even though they do not move) are power hogs. Having more RAM available (jump to 8 gig) will help compensate for the slower drive. Another option is to use an externally connected drive (USB3 - but preferably Firewire 800) for the video project files and edit only when there is main power available (stay aware from editing using the battery in the computer). This way, the computer's memory - RAM and available hard disc space is not competing so much with the operating system for resources.

I don't recall if your camcorder records to MOD of MTS files... but you have the camcorder, so you should be able to know which.

The video editing software included with any consumer camcorder from any manufacturer is basically useless. Even though your requirements are "not much" you would be much better off getting something like the basic Sony Vegas if you happen to to use WIndows as MovieMaker tends to be too rudimentary (even the latest version). iMovie (bundled with Macintosh OSX) is not as full featured as Vegas - but is a good piece of entry level video editing software. Final Cut Express is really good - and costs more than "bundled".

Sometimes you connect the camcorder to the computer and Import or Capture the video when the camcorder is in Play mode. iMovie and Final Cut do this - so not transcoder is needed. Sometimes you copy the files to the computer, transcode, then bring the converted files into the editor. Both ways work, there is no more "correct" way.

According to the manual for your camcorder, the "included software" is "HD Writer". This is not editing software, but a utility that allows copying the camcorder's video files to optical disc (usually DVD). This is not a video editor. If some sort of editor is included, I stand by the previous paragraph. Check the requirements of each of the titles. You want to exceed their stated minimum requirements.

I hope this helps. Obviously, my opinions, only... but if you go in short, expect to be disappointed. If you go in a bit beyond the minimum requirements, you will have a much better video editing experience...

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by aehamilton5 / April 19, 2012 5:13 AM PDT

Thanks very much for the time you've put into this. Very helpful advice. Cheers.

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