Panasonic's sub-$800 3CCD 1080p camcorder

Panasonic's sub-$800 3CCD 1080p camcorder

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware

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.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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  • Downside to Fireware

    I never really understood that matter of Fireware and only being able to export via real time. To me, I thought that was a limitation of the Camera, not the Connection. Unless Firewire was built purely around the thought of moving data from a MiniDV tape, I don't really understand.

    With Hard Drive Technology, I would assume that much as changed. Apparently not until now.
    • Well I have used firewire for hard drives and they...

      can transfer a lot faster than that, camcorders have to play the tape in order to read the data from the tape this process is slow, so it would be the limiting factor.

      A better reason to use USB 2.0 is that it is the least common denominator on PC's, all new PC's have USB 2.0 ports but not firewire.
      • So George is claiming...

        Sweet, George. By slipping in the reference to MiniDV [i]tape-based[/i] camcorders, he's slamming drive-based camcorders which have Firewire? Links, George! You're implying that drive-based units are limited to real-time speeds just like tape!

        I have a MiniDV Canon Elura 100, which has both USB 2.0 and Firewire. But my unit won't transfer video via the USB link - only still pictures. I have to use the 1394 port for video. Using that logic, USB 2.0 is useless. Oh - and I didn't have to install any drivers like in Windows. My old trusty copy of Fedora Core 6 sucked down video as soon as I plugged the camera into my laptop.

        Come on, George. Probably the real reason Panasonic left off Firewire is that it was one of the sacrifices to get the manufacturing costs down. Apple still gets royalties on their patent (which, I believe, expires soon).
        • Hence Firewire 1600

          But in reality, no one seems to use Firewire 800 yet. Except maybe Harddrive manufacturers.
        • Firewire S3200, sorry

          I hate it when people mix up facts. I hate it even more when I am one of those people.
        • No I am not

          No, i'm saying MiniDV tape-based camcorders with traditional firewire ports are lousy compared to this. That doesn't mean you can't build a firewire device that lets you mount hard drives via firewire. So I never said firewire was useless; just that these older miniDV firewires are useless (and I'm stuck with one of them).

          But yes, Firewire is left out for cost reasons since USB 2.0 is more common.
          • Is yours MiniDV Tape?

            I think the question was, is your older recorder a MiniDV Tape, MiniDV DVD or a MiniDV Hard Drive recorder?

            Firewire may not be as common as USB2 and USB may provide faster speeds, but Firewire offers less of a CPU hit as well as faster sustained speeds.

            As for your current situation, if you happen to have a DVD or HD recorder, I would be pissed at the vendor, not the technology.
          • Like most camcorders, it's a 1080i miniDV