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Panasonic plays hardball with new hard-drive camcorders

Panasonic's first hard-disk-based camcorders are full-featured and aggressively priced.


Though Panasonic calls them "hybrid" camcorders--being able to record to an SD card or a 30GB hard drive doesn't qualify in my book--the new SDR-H200 and SDR-H20 both have shock-protected 30GB hard drives for about six hours of best-quality recording, optical image stabilization, and prices of $799.95 and $599.95, respectively. Though $800 might not seem low for a hard-drive camcorder, consider that it has 3 CCDs and shoots 3-megapixel stills. The lower-priced SDR-H20 compensates for its lowly single-chip status with the typical 32X stalker lens--at least with the OIS you have a chance of getting a decent shot, though. Plus, it comes with a 512MB SD card. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, the press release was so poorly written it's unclear what's on the inside of the SDR-H20. The two camcorders are slated to ship in April.