The digital camcorder of the past may be the MiniDV camera and the camcorder of the future may record to an integrated hard drive or solid-state memory, but during the transition, DVD camcorders are still going strong. Panasonic introduced four new ones that record footage directly to 8cm DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD-RAM discs. The $500 VDR-D100 is equipped with a 30X optical zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD, and the minijoystick control that's popping up on camcorders all over the show floor this year. If it's worth another $100 to you to capture VGA-resolution stills on an SD card and have a built-in LED for low-light shooting, you can step up to the VDR-D200. Both models will be available in January 2006.
More interesting are Panasonic's two new three-chip DVD camcorders. If you find shooting directly to DVD convenient and can afford a pricier model, these promise to bring you the improved color rendition and sharper picture that a three-CCD camera is designed to achieve. Available in May 2006, the $900 VDR-D250 gives you wide-screen capture and a corresponding 2.7-inch wide-screen LCD, 2.3-megapixel still image output, and a 10X optical zoom. Shell out another $100, and you can step up to the VDR-D300 to get a Leica lens, optical image stabilization, and a built-in flash for illuminating the 3.1-megapixel stills that the camera outputs. The VDR-D300 will be available in March 2006.