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Panasonic camcorders replaced after eight months

After just eight months on the market, Panasonic has replaced its high-def camcorder line-up. In their stead are an even smaller SD-card model and a new hybrid DVD/SD-card model.

After just eight months on the market, Panasonic has replaced its high-def camcorder line-up. In their stead are an even smaller SD-card model and a new hybrid DVD/SD-card model.

After less than eight months, Panasonic's high-def camcorder line has been swept aside and replaced. The SD-card-based HDC-SD1, which was the world's smallest high-def camcorder at its launch in February this year, is replaced by the even smaller HDC-SD5. Measuring 65 by 135 by 67mm, it pips the Memory Stick-based Sony Handycam CX7K by several millimetres -- enough for Panasonic to claim it as the "world's smallest" again. More importantly, during our hands-on preview after the launch presentation, it seems Panasonic has cured the awkward hand placement issue we suffered with the HDC-SD1 -- the rear of the SD5 slopes upwards making it possible to hold the camera steady without inducing cramp.

The DVD-only model, the HDC-DX1, has fallen by the wayside and its place has been taken by a new hybrid DVD and SD-card model, the HDC-SX5. With the SX5 video can be recorded to either SD-card or DVD. Footage stored on SD-card can be burnt directly to DVD, without resorting to a PC. SD5 owners will have a similar option if they purchase the optional AU$299 VW-BN1 DVD burner which plugs into the camcorder's USB port.

Both models feature optical image stabilisation, three CCD image sensors -- one each for red, green and blue -- and can record at maximum of 1920 x 1080 in interlaced format (1080i). New features include Pre-Record and intelligent contrast control -- with Pre-Record enabled, the camera is constantly recording so when the user hits the record button the three seconds prior are included; this feature only works when recording to SD-card.

Panasonic is also launching a new 8GB SDHC card (AU$249), with a 16GB model available in the next few months. A 4GB SDHC card is included with the SD5, but SX5 owners will have to purchase their own SD-cards.

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HDC-SD5

HDC-SX5 Price AU$1,899 AU$1,799 On sale Mid-September Mid-September Sensor 3CCD 3CCD HD Format AVCHD (max 1080i) AVCHD (max 1080i) Optical zoom 10x 10x LCD size 2.7-inch 2.7-inch Image stabilisation Optical Optical Recording medium SD/SDHC card 8cm DVD and SD/SDHC card Included media 4GB SDHC card None Weight 340g 540g Dimensions (WxDxH) 65 x 135 x 67mm 83.5 x 151.5 x 93.5mm Replaces HDC-SD1 HDC-DX1