Panasonic's SV-AV10--a multifaceted device that captures low-resolution video and stills, plays digital music, and records voice memos--is one of those gadgets that's sure to get you some attention when you whip it out at a party or an event. Yes, this little guy is loaded with serious wow factor. But if you're expecting anything more than Webcam-level video quality, you'll be disappointed. But gadget lovers who like the idea of being able to e-mail video clips to friends and play back MP3s will be sorely tempted to open their wallets. The rest of us, however, will be content to wait for the next generation. Weighing a mere 3.5 ounces without battery and measuring 1.97 by 1.10 by 3.43 inches, this E-wear device fits nicely in a pocket and isn't much bigger than a deck of cards. If you want to wear the SV-AV10 around your neck, you can use the included lanyard, but there's also a felt carrying pouch, which keeps the device's easily scratched finish safe from car keys and other abrasive objects.
|Use the attached lanyard if you want to wear the SV-AV10 around your neck.||The SV-AV10's sharp and bright 2-inch, flip-out, active-matrix LCD is one of the most impressive elements of its design.|
Aside from its compact size, the most impressive aspect of the SV-AV10's design is its sharp and bright 2-inch, flip-out, active-matrix LCD. All in all, however, the unit has a somewhat cheap feel to it, which can make you think that you're holding a toy rather than a high-tech product with a $400 price tag. It would have helped if Panasonic had made the buttons a little snazzier and possibly added a bit of rubberized trim for flair and gripping purposes. The menu system is fairly intuitive--a jog dial helps navigate files and menus--but we sometimes found ourselves struggling to get back to certain places, such as the Settings menu. But with a little trial and error and a quick glance at the manual, you won't have any trouble playing back video recordings, still images, MP3s, and voice memos.
|Included accessories.||If you want to store a lot of music, grab a 64MB or 128MB SD card.|
For such a portable device, the SV-AV10 is quite versatile. The included 64MB Secure Digital (SD) removable memory card stores MPEG-4 video (ASF files), MP3 and AAC audio files, JPEG stills, and voice memos. And while it can hold several minutes of video and hundreds of stills, an extra 64MB or 128MB SD card would let you store more music.
Listening with a pair of over-the-ear headphones, we didn't have any complaints about MP3 sound quality. You can access playback functions without flipping out the LCD, but you do have to pull it out in order to view song information or adjust settings.
|Panasonic's lithium-ion battery will keep you recording for an hour and playing for 10.||You'll have to pull out the LCD to view info about your MP3s.|
Judge for yourself: this is not a camera for the photographic connoisseur.
As a digital camera, the SV-AV10, which has a 1/4-inch CMOS image sensor and 320x240 maximum resolution, doesn't do so well. While a built-in flash helps illuminate subjects, pictures tended to lack sharpness and were on a par with those produced by an entry-level Webcam. Panasonic offers an accessory small printer that makes wallet-sized prints, but don't anticipate going any bigger than that--these images are really suitable only for online viewing. The video element is more enticing. Again, don't expect wonders; the video is highly compressed. Generally, voices don't quite match what lips are saying--think of a dubbed kung fu movie. But the SV-AV10 does capture sound, and the resulting files are definitely e-mail-friendly. A 30-second video that we recorded came out to a mere 500K. One warning: Though the camera can film in relatively low light, it helps a lot if subjects are somewhat well lit. In other words, if you're shooting in a dim corner of a club, you're going to get a very dark video.
If you'd like to get rid of the yellow glare you see in the previous image, use the manual white balance indoors.