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Panasonic SV-AV30 e-wear review: Panasonic SV-AV30 e-wear

Panasonic SV-AV30 e-wear

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John Falcone Senior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
Expertise Over 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping advice Credentials
  • Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
John Falcone
2 min read

The SV-AV30 is the latest addition to Panasonic's e-wear line of all-in-one portables. The device combines the basic features of a digital still camera and camcorder, an MP3 player, and a voice recorder with personal-video-player (PVP) capabilities, which enable playback of TV shows and movies.

7.2

Panasonic SV-AV30 e-wear

The Good

Ultracompact clamshell design; five-in-one device; includes a cradle for TV recording and playback.

The Bad

Image quality is no match for that of dedicated cameras and camcorders; ships with a paltry 64MB SD card; no lens cover.

The Bottom Line

It can't replace a camera or a camcorder, but the SV-AV30 is a friendly, all-in-one A/V solution that fits in your pocket.

Functionally, the AV30 differs little from the original e-wear product, the SV-AV10. The new model uses the same bare-bones MPEG-4 camcorder, with its paltry 320x240-pixel resolution and its fixed-focus, fixed-focal-length lens. Photos remain at 640x480 VGA resolution, but you also still get the helpful built-in flash and the easy, intuitive interface. You'll barely need to consult the manual except for the more-advanced options, such as manual white balance. The capable MP3 playback and voice recording are also back with no changes.

While not revolutionary, the SV-AV30's improvements are worthwhile. The clamshell design is somewhat squarer at 2.4 by 1.1 by 3 inches, so you can pocket the unit as easily as a cell phone. The USB jack on the body precludes the need for the separately bundled SD-card reader that the SV-AV10 required. And the new docking cradle provides easy recording and playback of MPEG-4 video on any standard TV. For $60 less, you can get the SV-AV20, which ships without the cradle but is otherwise identical.

The PVP features are a nice addition to the SV-AV30's bag of tricks. With its 2-inch screen and flash-based storage, the Panasonic can't compete with the larger, hard drive-based Archos AV320, but it was still cool to watch a TV show on the subway. Movie lovers, beware, however: The SV-AV30 respects Macrovision copyright protection, so you won't be able to record many of your DVD and VHS flicks.

For all its improvements, the SV-AV30 shares many of the original e-wear model's shortfalls. The included 64MB SD card stores barely an hour of music and only eight minutes of highest-quality video. Panasonic would do well to include higher-capacity media. Furthermore, the lens desperately needs a cover to protect it from the smudges and the scratches that will inevitably threaten it during everyday use.

This jack-of-all-trades can't replace even budget camcorders, digital cameras, and PVPs. But gadget freaks looking for an ultraportable device that can record and play small, Web- and PC-friendly video files may find the SV-AV30 a nice toy. We won't use it to shoot our vacation movies or family photos, but we had fun with it.