Pansonic belatedly toddles into the minicamcorder market, a bumper crop of sub-$250, candy-bar-style products currently dominated by models such as the
Though the company is late to market, the TA1 does offer a relatively nice design and feature set for its $169.95 price. The camcorder itself is one of the smallest available, has a streamlined front design, and comes in basic--but attractive--red, dark grey, and purple. It's got a lot of buttons, though, in a category where less is more.
As for features, it has a pretty complete set: It records 1080/30p MPEG-4 video, has a 2-inch LCD, a captive USB cable, a removable battery, and an SDXC card, and a (blinding) LED video light. There are also a few special effects. The 1/4.1-inch 3-megapixel sensor is smaller for the resolution than some competitors, but it uses backside illumination technology, which might result in decent low-light quality.
Thus far, only Sanyo has made a point of supporting Apple's unnecessary iFrame format, a smaller-than-HD 960x540/30p size designed to be easily imported into iMovie (though you can easily import standard HD MPEG-4 formats into iMovie). Pansonic bought Sanyo, so behold--it's touting that "feature" in both the TA1 and its other entry-level model, the newly announced HDC-SDX1.
The SDX1 introduction makes it Panasonic's third camcorder at the $499 price point, joining the Best Buy-only
This model is slated to be distributed through yet another couple of club-type channels. So no matter where you shop, there's a $499 Panasonic designed exclusively for you. Good luck trying to figure out if you're getting a reasonable deal; then again, I guess that's the point.