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Panasonic HX-WA10 review:

Panasonic HX-WA10

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The Good Smart design; easy to use; cheap; waterproof to 3 metres.

The Bad Awkward controls; memory card slot positioned under the battery; some unpredictable colours and other picture quality issues.

The Bottom Line As long as you're not expecting top-notch performance, the Panasonic HX-WA10 is a cool looking, easy to use camcorder that doesn't mind being splashed with water and doesn't cost the Earth.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.5 Overall

Jumping on two bandwagons at once, and balancing between them like a tiny man wearing giant rollerskates, Panasonic's HX-WA10 boasts both a pistol grip design and a waterproof body. It's certainly an eye-catching product, and water resistance could be a boon for your holidays -- but should you splash out £200 for one?

Pistol grip design

Our initial thought upon meeting the HX-WA10 for the first time was how much it reminded us of Sanyo's Xacti line -- specifically the Xacti VPC-CA100, to which Panasonic's pistol-shaped camera is all but identical. It's no coincidence, since Panasonic bought Sanyo a couple of years ago.

Panasonic HX-WA10 in black
The HX-WA10 in sleek black.

You can see why Panasonic was happy to reuse Sanyo's design virtually wholesale -- the HX-WA10 is a natty-looking device with an angled trigger-style handle, an upwards-slanting lens and a toughened two-toned exterior that's available in orange, blue or black.

Water resistant

Resistant to the wet stuff up to depths of 3 metres, the HX-WA10 battens down the hatches against fluid infiltration with a pair of lockable, rubber-sealed doors hiding the sensitive memory card slot, battery compartment and HDMI/USB sockets.

Unfortunately, Panasonic's engineers have failed to address a number of inherent flaws in Sanyo's original design and these are ported across along with all the good things. The memory card slot, for example, is tucked away underneath the battery pack, meaning you have to power down the camcorder whenever you want to pop in fresh SD storage.

Control problems

As with the VPC-CA100, we also found ourselves holding the camera with the lens pointing slightly upwards. Angling the unit to film your subjects properly takes a bit of getting used to.

Panasonic HX-WA10 controls
It's hard to see what's on the screen when you're pressing the buttons and vice versa.

Worse, perhaps, are the controls on the side of the unit, underneath the fold-out LCD. The menu and cursor buttons are built into the body and it's almost impossible to use them without turning the whole camera sideways, which inevitably means you can't see what's on the screen as you press. This starts off being mildly irksome but quickly becomes utterly infuriating the more you use the device.

Video quality tested

The similarities with Sanyo's camcorder continue when you start to explore the HX-WA10 on a technical level. Both cameras can capture still photos at up to 16-megapixel resolutions (with interpolation) and movies at up to 1080i (60 frames per second) or 1080p (30fps). A fast (60fps) 720p mode is available too.

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