CES: Panasonic goes camcorder crazy

If 2007 was a good year for Panasonic in the camcorder department, 2008 looks like it's going to be even better. Eight new cams are earmarked for rele

If 2007 was a good year for Panasonic in the camcorder department, 2008 looks like it's going to be even better. Eight new cams are earmarked for release.

Top of the towering pile are its latest tiny HD 'corders, the SD card-swallowing SD9 (pictured), which takes over from the SD5, and the HS9, which adds a welcome 40GB hard drive. We're extra pleased to spot that 5.1 surround sound mics are back on board, after skipping a generation from the SD1.

Panny's also added 1080p24 capability, found on the likes of the top-end Canon HV20. That little 24 tells you it's not quite the Blu-ray/PS3/Xbox 360’s eye-popping 1080p. In fact, in pure pixel-power terms, it's slightly lower quality than 1080i. But it does produce the old-school 24 frames-per-second rate beloved of film-makers, so if you've got a 24fps-capable telly it might be well worth a butchers.

Standard def's not been abandoned just yet, with six new offerings. The H40 and H60 pack 40/60GB hard drives as well as SD-card recording options. The D50 and GS90 get DVD and old-school miniDV respectively.

Standout features include monster 42x optical zooms (50x on the H60). Normally they'd be as useful as chocolate teapots, but coupled with Panasonic's new and improved Advanced MEGA O.I.S. to steady things, those huge zooms could just turn out to be usable.

Finally there are two new pocket-sized SD-card cams to look forward to, the 10x zooming S7 and the water- and shock-proof SW20. The latter takes over from the S10 as Panasonic's hard-case 'corder.

Sadly, the chaps on Panasonic's CES stand weren't able to tell us when we might be seeing any of these in the UK. A British spokesperson is being dragged from their bed for answers as we speak...

Essentials

Panasonic HDC-SD9, HDC-HS9, SDR-H40, SDR-H60, VDR-D50, PV-GS90, SDR-S7, SDR-SW20

Price: £TBA

On sale: 2008

Contact: http://www.panasonic.co.uk