Update 8:15AM - Note that 1080p is only in 24p mode.
Panasonic will release two new true (1920x1080) 1080p 24p 3CCD camcorders in March 2008 for a list price of $800 and $1100. That means both models will likely be under $1000 which illustrates how fast prices come down on new technology. Both models will have SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) flash memory slots but the larger model will also have a 60 GB hard drive built in. Both models shun the traditional IEEE 1394 Firewire port for standard USB 2.0 ports.
The smaller HDC-SD9 pictured below will be a flash only model allowing the use of SDHC flash cards of 4 to 32 GBs.
The slightly wider HDC-HS9 pictured below will house a 60 GB hard drive in addition to the SDHC slot.
Both models will continuously buffer 0.6 seconds of video as soon as the unit is powered on so that when you finally do shoot, your footage begins 0.6 seconds before you actually hit the record button.
Consumers may be confused by the lack of a Firewire port used by all digital video camcorders but this is actually a good thing. The older miniDV tape drive camcorders used a high speed 400 mbps firewire port but only allowed you to export movies at a snails pace of 28 mbps in real-time. These USB based units on the other hand essentially let you mount a drive as soon as you connect it to a PC and simply drag and drop the file over at up to 240 mbps sustained throughput if the camera and the storage device can keep up. Even if it doesn't keep up, it will still be much faster than the old real-time method of copying tapes.
The random access nature of SDHC and Hard Drive storage also means you won't need to worry about accidentally wiping out precious footage because you forgot to forward the tape to a point where you haven't recorded yet. All these features and the price point of these new 1080p 3-chip camcorders are going to make 1080p video mainstream. If these two models live up to the specifications, it will be a compelling product. I'll see if I can get a hands-on review.