Hands on: Panasonic HM-TA1 pocket-size camcorder

Panasonic-TA-1

LatestGadgets had the chance to test out the Panasonic HM-TA1. This will be Panasonic’s first pocket camcorder and goes toe to toe with the Flip Ultra HD. Let’s see how it compares.

The HM-TA1 is very easy to use and I was up and running within minutes. All the software is preloaded on to the camcorder so no CD required here. There are a few more buttons than on the Flip but there are more settings allowing you to tailor the video or picture to how you want it. Video is Full HD and pictures are in average 8MP. Unfortunately, there is no HDMI with the HM-TA1 so connecting to your TV might be a bit tricky. There is an in-built USB arm so connecting to your PC is simply plug and play.

The arm can be a bit awkward to get out but once you get the hang of it, you will be fine. A major plus for the TA1 is the SD slot so you can put a 16GB memory card in and record hours upon hours of video, unlike the Flip in-built storage. Why not go bigger if you like?

Sample footage (by a 3rd party):

The camcorder has a 4x zoom so you can video from a distance. For those action shots, the Electrical Image Stabilizer system will minimise blurring and hand-shake. It doubles as a webcam as it is Skype compatible. To upload video you have transfer to your PC first then upload to YouTube using the software which is similar to Flip. You can customise the TA1 from a choice of 40 skins

For Panasonic’s first outing into the pocket side of things, it is a good little camera for people who take a lot of video as you can get a memory card to suit you. Available from £99.99 at Currys. You will need to buy a memory card to go with it which brings it close the Flip Mino HD and Ultra HD in price.

The best of IFA – part 1

IFA 2010 is done and dusted, so thought we would give you a 2-part low down on what has caught our eye, including the world’s first 3D camcorder from Panasonic, the Galaxy tablet from Samsung, Toshiba’s Folio, ViewSonic’s tablet and LG’s 2.9 mm thick OLED.

Best-of-IFA

Panasonic were in bullish mood about their focus for the next twelve months, and it all revolves around their 3D Eco-system. We attended their press conference at the Messe in Berlin, where they held a full 3D press conference. All attendees were given 3D glasses to watch the presentation. And they filled the conference room with 94 Viera Full HD 3D Plasma TV’s.

The first big unveiling was the world’s first consumer-type 3D camcorder, which will go on sale in the autumn. The HDC-SDT750 is the world’s first and they showed footage caught from the camera on the 3D TV’s in front of us – it showed the potential of bringing family moments to life; like birthday’s or going to beach in full 1080p 3D glory. We have to say it did look stunning. Especially, with their new 3D eyewear that was on show for the first time.

They also announced two new full 3D HD TV’s that were very impressive, especially with their new 600hz technology, it’s not as thin as a LED but they did produce stunning pictures. Later on, they brought on stage partners from Eurosport and Ubisoft, who announced that the French and US open were going to be available in 3D. Ubisoft announced a slew of titles that will be in 3D. Panasonic also announced that their new Viera 3D TV’s can connect to Ge-force PC’s making 425 games 3D compatible via HMDI 1.4a. They also showed off their 152” HD TV, which they have already taken orders for. However, they were unwilling to say how much it was.

Elsewhere the IFA went tablet crazy, with announcements from Samsung, Toshiba and Viewsonic. Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet stole the show and already being talked about as an operator-friendly alternative to Apple’s iPad. The 7-inch form-factor is more portable than the iPad and runs the Google alternative operating system Android. It will come in two flavours 16GB and 32GB and Samsung announced 200 apps on launch. No pricing details were given although it is thought to be a high as £500.

Toshiba announced their foray into the Tablet world with their compelling software full Folio, which again runs on Android. The tablet has a 10.1-inch, diagonal screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. Folio runs on version 2.2 of Google’s Android operating system.

The fact that Toshiba used Android 2.2 is important because the Folio will be able to run Adobe Flash, a ubiquitous Web technology for playing video. That’s a key advantage over the iPad, which along with the iPhone can’t play Flash video. The Folio is equipped with an SD card slot, and HDMI and USB 2.0 connectors. The device supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless, with a 3G model scheduled for the near future, according to Toshiba.

Viewsonic also announced a tablet which features Windows 7 as well Android, but there is a compromise you can only run Android 1.6, which is already considered outdated. This is because it’s the most recent version that supports the x86 processor on the tablet, which is required for Windows 7. Not the worst compromise, but still a compromise. The rest of the specs are typical netbook-level stuff: Intel Atom N455 processor, 1GB memory, 16GB SSD, 1024×600 10? LCD.

LG were proud to show off the world’s biggest and thinnest OLED TV, which have had us drooling for years, but they’ve always been tiny and expensive. Now LG has solved one of those problems, well sort of, showing off a 31-inch OLED TV, which will hit stores in March 2011. Finally, OLED is big enough for the living room. The only downside is it’ll cost a whopping £6,000 to get it there.

For the money though, you’ll get a Full HD TV set to floor all others, with an “infinite” contrast ratio and colours as rich as those buying it, the world’s largest commercially available OLED TV measures 31 inches across, as is also the slimmest in the world at 2.9mm thick.

Panasonic high definition DVD recorder for Freeview+HD: ideal for the World Cup

Them at Panasonic have pre-empted Freeview HD being rolled out across the country by releasing an absolutely marvellous bit of kit in the DMR-XW380. Seemingly a cross between Sky Plus and a DVD player, this brand new gizmo will enable you to record programs from Freeview HD channels onto its hard drive and then, if you wish, transfer that onto a DVD with the quality of picture not being compromised. Reviews of the clarity of the picture once it’s transferred have been unanimously positive, with the grandly named High Definition Chroma Processer seemingly ensuring lines stay crisp and edges sharp.

Panasonic-Freeview-HD-recorders

Often the problem with these kind of digital TV recording facilities is that if you are recording something you cannot watch another channel (which, to these eyes, seems to slightly negate the point of the whole thing, but lets not get bogged down in that eh?). Thankfully the DMR-XW380 has swerved this whole problem marvellously by not just allowing you to watch another digital channel, but allowing you to record another digital channel. Oh, praise be to God in the Highest! What a stunning development this is. For football fans already salivating at the prospect of a month of ignoring their other half and garnering another excuse to drink beer during the World Cup, this means the whole experience can be lengthened. Two games on at the same time? Not a problem mon frère! Watch one (record if its England), watch the other straight after. If you think about it logically, taking into account half-time and pre/post match reflection this would enable you to avoid any kind of meaningful, non-football related conversation for at least four and a half hours. That’s more or less an evening for most people, which enables them to skip all that mucky, soulless hows-your-day smalltalk, and get right down to the good stuff before the bliss of boozy slumber.

Of course, the plus points don’t just finish here. Any Sky Plus fan worth their salt will rhapsodise at length about the innocent joy of being able to pause live TV. If they don’t they’re probably lying about having it in some cock-eyed attempt to be ‘cool’ and in fact run away screaming to Mummys breast any time ‘people start coming out of that little black box. ’ Well, the DMR-XW380 has this capability in the form of its cryptically named Rewind Live TV function, which will enable you to rewind over two hours back to the scene of your choosing (no jumpy Body Of Evidence shots for the next generation of UK teenagers).

It’s all delivered in Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 channel surround sound and users can, if they wish, use subtitles on all recordings. There’s also a bevy of extra features- you can upload images and movies from your digital camera, you can use it to watch videos on sites like Youtube. One particularly snazzy snippet is its DLNA server functionality which enables you to connect it to compatible devices in other rooms, so even the most unfriendly of house-sharers can bear the fruits of their work at Panasonic HQ.

It would seem the only sticking point is the price- £550. It seems an awful lot especially when you know it’ll be half that in a couple years. Of course that’s not really the point-the sort of person that really desires these functions now won’t give two bananas about the price. And for them, it seems, the DMR-XW380 will be nothing but a Godsend.

The DMR-BW880EBK and BW780EBK Freeview+HD Blu-ray Disc™ Recorders are also available and feature in the lovely picture above.

Latest Gadgets visit Panasonic – Intelligent Living

Panasonic invited Latest Gadgets to have a look at some of its household gadgets. Despite being renown for household goods in Japan and the rest of Asia, they lack a distinct presence in these areas in Europe and invited us over to change our minds.
At first we were wary – how exciting can fridges get? Aren’t gadgets mp3 players and cameras. Shouldn’t you be reading yet another article about 3DTV? Probably, but they told us there would be lasers so we went down anyway.

Panasonic-Intelligent-Living

The lasers in question were used as part of Panasonic’s Active Range (ES-RT31, ES-RT51 and ES-RT81) of shavers, which can be used wet or dry. Unfortunately there were no lightsaber based innovations but they did feature Nano-Edge blades (blade tip = 0.3 microns) to the new Active shavers – a feature normally reserved for expensive shavers and the ability to shave in the shower. They had epilators as well but I stayed well clear of those.

Amazing cooking smells took me to the over to see Panasonic’s award-winning Flatbed combination microwave oven range, the NN-CF778S, NN-CF760M and NN-CF750W. Flatbed Oven Technology means that the rotating part of the microwave is under the ceramic base of the microwave allowing bigger dishes and faster cooking times. The Panasonic Inverter Technology guarantees uniform and even cooking. And amazing brownies. Combination cooking can also reduce cooking times by half to two thirds, depending on the food, whilst giving traditional conventional oven results. A whole roast chicken can be cooked in half the time, using 25% less energy than a conventional oven. Effectively you could use one of these instead of a conventional oven. A boon for those in pokey urban flats.

Panasonic also launched its first fridge-freezers into the European market. The Fridges didn’t feature internet connected touchscreens, which is probably to their credit. What they did feature was significant energy savings due to Inverter technology and their U-Vacua vacuum insulation panels. However what grabbed me were two things. Firstly Hygiene active – a combination lifetime filter, air circulation and LED light system in the refrigerator compartment which combats 99.9% of typical bacteria more effectively than ordinary surface coating treatments according to Panasonic. What I found really cool however, was two flashing LEDs which activate fruit and vegetables’ natural defences and reduce the natural degradation effect of Vitamin C loss, allowing food to remain fresher for longer.

All in all it was clever stuff. Soon I may start demanding the same level of technical sophistication I want from my laptops and smartphones in my microwaves and fridges.

Panasonic’s Lumix touchscreen DMC-G2

Panasonic has recently announced the launch of the Lumix DMC-G2- the world’s first digital camera which comes complete with an interchangeable lens system, a movable LCD and a unique touchscreen.

The touchscreen is definitely an exciting and innovative tool. Firstly, the touch control capability means that the lens can be swapped at the tap of a button. In fact, there are a whole host of touch screen options including varied shooting control functions or changing the camera’s settings which of course, makes the whole process of snapping pictures a great deal easier. In addition to taking great still shots, the Lumix DMC-G2 is fully able to handle 720p High Definition video thanks to its AVCHD Lite format.

When you’re taking your pictures, you can tap the screen to focus on a specific point and can also resize the area that you want to focus on. You can even tap in various places to select multiple focus points. Whenever you focus onto your photo subject, the Lumix G2 will enable AF Tracking while keeping track of your subject as it moves within the frame which increases the ability to achieve a great quality shot. If you prefer more personal camera control, there is also manual focus option but you can still enlarge the image by up to five times using the touchscreen helping you to achieve a more defined, accurate and sharper picture.

In terms of how this benefits video use, you can also touch the screen in two places to pull focus from one point to the other. Other cool options include being able browse through your pictures with your finger, the choice of seven scene modes and the ability to move the onscreen histogram so it doesn’t alter or obscure your image. The inclusion of intelligent resolution technology also sharpens detailed specific areas of a photo. Additional features include a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, the high-speed and high-performance Venus Engine HD II, a Dust Reduction System and software which will enable you to edit your videos and pictures.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 will come in a colour choice of red, blue or black and is due to go on sale in June this year. Pricing and availability will be announced 30 days prior to the launch. For further information, please go to-: http://www.panasonic.co.uk/html/en_GB/News/Latest+news/3570539/index.html

Panasonic’s DMP-BDT300 enters 3D Blu-ray market

We’ve already reported on how Samsung were first out of the blocks with their 3D Blu-ray player, but as you might expect their competitors have not been far behind and so it comes as no surprise to see Panasonic enter the fray with the launch of their very own player.

The DMP-BDT300 will be the company’s first Full HD 3D Blu-ray player as the home entertainment giants jostle to provide us with an increasingly immersive entertainment experience. Panasonic boast that their player features the brand new, exclusively developed UniPhier LSI chip, which helps to process the large volume of Full HD 3D movies. This new UniPhier enables the player to output Full HD images in 1920×1080 resolutions in the so-called frame-sequential method. With this method, the images for left and right eye are displayed in alteration in order to create 3D images, which all sounds pretty impressive.

As you might expect Pansonic promises unrivalled picture quality whether you’re watching movies in all three dimensions or the customary two dimensional output that we’ll one day get nostalgic about. Like seemingly all modern players though, Panasonic have furnished the device with a wireless connection with which you can access a world of apps and widgets to keep you constantly connected with the outside world. It’s a strange idea that seems at odds against the totally immersive home cinema experience that they’re pedalling, and one which I imagine will rely heavily on the type of content they’ve got up their digital sleeves, but for those with the set up the ability to stream content direct from your home network will be appealing.

Whether Panasonic will trump Samsung in the battle for your living room remains to be seen, but we can only welcome the competition and hope that more players will come on the market to drive down what will undoubtedly be an expensive piece of kit.