Though it's a little late to the pocket camcorder party -- which is already dominated by Flip Video's line of USB camcorders -- Panasonic is entering the market with the new HM-TA1, a mini-camcorder that can shoot full HD video and sports typical Flip-like features such as an integrated USB connector, one-touch video recording, and software for no-brainer uploading to YouTube and Facebook.
It may be joining an already-crowded market, but the HM-TA1 is an impressive contender, delivering full 1920x1080 resolution at 30 fps (the Flips top out at 1280x720). At 2.09x0.70x4.09 inches and weighing in at just 4 ounces (with battery and SD card), it's also one of the smallest models on the market, though I personally think a little bit more heft makes these tiny camcorders a bit easier to shoot with (I always preferred the thicker Flip UltraHD to the slimmer MinoHD, for example).
One of the best features of the new HM-TA1, though is that it can double as a Webcam as well -- something I always thought these types of camcorders should be able to do. The TA1 works with Skype and other IP-based video chat applications with plug-and-play ease. Other nice touches include the built-in LED light for low-light shooting and the ability to cut still images out of video clips at the touch of a button as well as record 8-megapixel still photos.
The Panasonic HM-TA1 will begin shipping in August (in purple, dark grey and red options), for a very competitive price of $169.95.