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Podgy little scene stealer: Canon DC40

Small doesn't always mean lithe. This pot-bellied camcorder shoots straight to DVD -- there's no pesky editing stage to get in the way of watching your movies on a home DVD player

DVD camcorders are making the steady transition from renegade youngsters to revolutionaries with the deftness of Che Guevera. There was no enlightening motorcycle ride for the DC40 though, nor has it produced a diary -- not even a video one -- but this is one of the best-looking and well-featured DVD cameras we've seen yet.

The DC40 writes to 80mm DVD-R and DVD-RW discs. These are the half-size type, and can be read by almost all non-slot-loading home DVD players. While hardcore movie enthusiasts may rue the lack of control this gives them over editing footage, for many of us the convenience of VHS-type immediacy is a good reason to buy.

A 4-megapixel CCD and 10x optical zoom gives the DC40 decent home-movie credentials. Weighing in at a tight 530g and measuring 87 by 126 by 60mm, you can imagine slipping this into a picnic hamper and driving your VW Beetle down windy summer roads to the beach. We'll reserve judgement until Canon start shipping the little pixies, but our overall impression is pimp. -CS

Update: more images and a full review of the Canon DC40 are now live in our Reviews channel.