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Panasonic intros next-gen SD camcorder, new card

Panasonic intros next-gen SD camcorder, new card

Although the company hasn't indicated U.S. availability, Panasonic Japan has announced the SDR-S150, the follow-on to its SD-S100 SD-based camcorder. The SDR-S150 has almost identical specs to its predecessor--three 800,000-pixel CCDs, optical image stabilization, and a 2.8-inch LCD, for starters--but supports SD cards larger than 2GB. This announcement coincides with--you guessed it--Panasonic's 4GB SD card news. Both are slated to be available elsewhere in August.

The 4GB card is the first to bear the SDHC logo: SD High Capacity. In reality, the logo is more important for the read/write hardware, such as digital cameras; basically, it says, "FAT32 spoken here." The other aspect of the latest iteration of the SD spec also clarifies--and I use the term loosely--card performance by clumping them into groups by minimum sustained data transfer rate (MSDTR): Class 2 equals 2MB per second, Class 4 equals 4MB per second, and Class 6 equals 6MB per second.

The only possible rationale I can see for this system is to allow marketers to snow consumers with ambiguous performance claims. To wit: a card with a 3.5MB-per-second MSDTR and one with a 2MB-per-second MSDTR both become Class 2 cards, despite the fact that the former's performance is closer to that of a Class 4 card than of Class 2. Why can't they just report the actual MSDTR or translate the performance to some sort of normalized scale (along the lines of the older x ratings) if people are scared of the real rates?