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When I returned from London and wondered what video reviews I would be making, I realised that out of all the cameras I have, the one featured on my Samsung Galaxy Ace is probably the best for quick and easy access. Although Samsung make excellent cameras in general, their compact camcorders consist of a much larger range that I didn't really want to own and though the camera on my Smartphone is excellent, the worst aspect of it is that it seems to pick up dust even though the screen has been cleaned many times. The second alternative is to rely on my rather retro 2xAA battery Canon Powershot camera that does offer a good video maker but in no way does it offer as better a quality than the Samsung or indeed this smarter, much more functional "cordless" camera-cum-camcorder from Panasonic, seems to offer. At cost the Panasonic NCDCX1 costs from £100 to £140 for its black, daring colour. Perhaps it is generic to call it "daring," but against so many brands out there and their associated products, as a buyer looking for a first time "simple" camcorder, the Panasonic HX-DC1 by price alone deserves consideration and is the starter model above the water proof 16MP "HX-.WA10," similarly based on the Sanyo "Xacti," when Panasonic took the company over in 2009. Normally priced at £80 for the Olympics badged edition and stemming from a whole range of products that Panasonic sponsored the 2012 London Olympics with, the white colour Panasonic HX-DC1 carries the pink "Olympics" signage in a little corner on the camera's outer main fascia screen backing. Everything else carries a grey font and is easy to see, ranging from the existing design in other colours that came to market in 2011. Priced at £79-99 and then cut further down to £59-99 made it far more sense for what it offers. What you get here is effectively a Smartphone sized camera with a large lens on the end. There's a handy flip up screen when the camcorder has to be used and as such with everything becoming smaller all the time, the Panasonic HX-DC1 "Olympics" deserves to come first on looks alone! Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec * Brand & Model: Panasonic HX-DC1 "Olympics" Vertical Camcorder. * 8.5cm by 13cm by 3.8cm size, approx. weight of 181grams. * Records in MP4 video format, supports AVC files & QuickTime. * Full-HD (1920 x 1080) 1080p, 14.4MP resolution & Full HD video. * 7.5cm widescreen viewer size with 285° rotational neck. * 5X optical zoom, 12X Wide-range zoom & 60X digital zoom. * Comes with HD Writer VE 1.0 for web uploading. * Originally available in black, white, grey or pink. * Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, USB charger cable & mini HDMI cables. * 2.0 USB Crd & AC Adaptor with UK Plug supplied. * Compatible with SD & SDHC. * Camera flash & snap on lens cover. * My price £59-99, average price £69-99 to £80-00. General Impressions & Quality This time around with the colour being predominately white, there's a smooth and glossy look this camera when it is all folded up, with an Apple like creamy white colour that adorns everything in so far as its quality is concerned. Look closer and you'll find a creamy glittery appearance rather than completely bowing down to the likes of Apple. Curvy, "non blunt," and indeed quite modern looking both to my eyes and in my hand, the HX-DC1 is not left wanting from feeling expensive even if slide out battery door and USB expansion slots both have ill fitting "flexible" twin hinges that don't feel as if they will last - at least they are fitted than having doors that come off completely and get lost. The camera's main function controls are already located on the outer part of the body, ready to go but they can't be used until the screen has been opened up. Generally as a "vertical" camcorder, I've been impressed with its size as it only measures 7.5cm in my hand physically. Furthermore, what I like about Panasonic's controls though is that they are black buttons and sensibly placed, with the only downside being that they are rather pushed together, appearing quite busy for the first time user. They are well marked though with white scrolls on them and associated generic icons making it easy to function from more experienced camcorder users. There is a rather chunky English only user manual supplied and carries both a quick start guide as well as fairly elaborate section that shows you how to use every iota of information. I find it somewhat busy and a bit off-putting but at least the company have thought about a wider selection of buyers from amateurs to the more experienced. A single USB cable is also supplied as is a UK adaptor and HDMI cables twinned with a mini-USB cable point. I'd have liked to have found a simple carry case, of which nothing is offered other than over elaborate packaging on the camera itself and out of the box you do get a UK plug fitted battery charger cord with the 3.7 battery already installed into the camera. General Performance & Downsides From the moment that is opened up, a nice surprise I like is that the Panasonic HXDC-1 will switch on automatically when the viewer screen is opened and switch off automatically when the main screen is folded back down. With just a simple push button to the camera record button, the Panasonic can start shooting a video in an instant with a 2 channel stereo microphone built in as standard. There's another button that allows you to take a still photo as an option - handy if you don't have your usual camera with you. There is also another separate on button on the inside of this camera which I was initially confused as to what this function is for - marked "On/USB," it acts as an instant uploader connection button which is so handy for quick uploading of photos but also acts as a manual override on/off button if you just want to keep the screen window open during temporary periods of rest. The Panasonic HX-DC1 also has a 5.5mm tripod screw-in point on the base for generic stands or tripods so the on/off manual override button is a great feature without collapsing the camera down in between takes. Throughout operation, there is a red LED light that shines on, changing to green when photos or movies are being uploaded to flashing red or green lights when either the battery requires charging and when the battery is being charged. A further icon appears on the screen to show when the battery has fully charged up. Initially though as I thought that the design panel for the controls are a bit busy, it only takes a few more uses before the camera's main function panel becomes second nature. As it is a camcorder it has a built in microphone, a handy slip through-and tie-wrist strap and a snap on lens cover, a slight downside to its general design that it doesn't have a built-in lens cover to protect the camera/camcorder when not in use. Another annoyance I found was trying to use the multi-function SET button - it is quite a tiny 4 way directional roller ball type button that can be initially difficult to get it to set properly - begging me to question why Panasonic didn't carry over the same array of buttons from the original Sanyo design - the SET button requires a lot more space rather than cramming two small buttons beside it and typically like Samsung, you need tiny fingers to get the best out of the controls in general or just a great deal of patience and light pressure from the tops of my fingers. When it comes to uploading videos to my computer, I'm delighted to find that I did not require to upload the DVD-ROM driver that comes supplied with this product. A simple charge combined uploader USB cord is supplied with the Panasonic, which makes it super easy for the phone to connect to the device where photos or videos captured can easily be uploaded - and if you lose it - it is the identical USB cord that Samsung also appear to supply with their Galaxy Smartphones. But when it comes to image clarity, the Panasonic HX-DC1 doesn't leave me wanting. It captures moments with a distinctive quality that is better than my Samsung with seven different light settings but adjusts each angle, each movement of the camera that I point towards the desired image. Okay, so if you have a higher grade Smartphone already that offers far more than the Samsung Galaxy Ace, the HX-DC1 may leave you short but the Panasonic has an infinite variable shooting quality that is far better than the visually and similarly sized Flip Camera. Although Panasonic claim that this product can take photographs during a video shoot, it only gives options of 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 zooms, thus you have to manually take photos with the push button for the camera alone to get a higher megapixel quality. Overall I can see why anyone may be attracted by a "pistol-grip," cordless camcorder. On the one hand it is infectiously cute not to switch it on, point and record something, but on the other it offers a fantastic alternative to reliance on a Smartphone's camera function alone, particularly if the memory on your phone is already being used to house apps and music files. This is one of those gadgets that is destined to be taken on holiday with and perhaps excessively used. Generally when it comes to its simple one-button record for being able to shoot in full HD quality, the Panasonic HX-DC1 is a superb effort for first time buyers looking for a video camera but who wishes they could have an added large screen to video or snap still photos - my late mum would have adored this camera because of her macular eye problems - as she struggled with her standard compact camera with its viewer, and the screen though of similar size doesn't appear to have as much infinite zooming quality as this Panasonic provides. However, through operation I was also surprised to find that the claimed long life lithium battery lasts about half an hour to an hour if shooting a video with full HD quality. Normally when it comes to my cordless appliances and gadgets, I coo over the fact that more modern gadgets these days have a long life, long run lithium-ion battery on board - but definitely not here where longevity is concerned. If you require a basic video camera that can take in stereo sound as well as full colour, the Panasonic HX-DC1 can easily provide it - but against the claimed "90" minutes of run time via cordless, I find that the camera can last for around 45 minutes recording time for a full continuous movie recording to an hour when chopping up videos and thus using the camera in drips and drabs. Obviously at the detriment of not being able to record in full HD quality, the HX-DC1 lasts just a little bit longer than an hour but only at a push before the battery power warning comes up on the camera's screen. The alternative is to make short videos at a time, of which this Panasonic seems to be designed for. Indeed, a look through the rather chunky user manual reveals a lot of photos with children and pets in mind - it appears that this product has been designed very much for young children or teenagers responsible enough to own a camcorder of this type. This means short videos that can be uploaded to the likeminded added HD Writer VE 1.0 software that you'll receive to go to social networks and the web in general, though I doubt Panasonic kept in mind a few buyers over the age of 16 who may struggle to keep a grip of the camera's small user controls as I do continue to struggle with the smaller buttons. Accessing the multi menus on board the main control panel is simple to do, but the HX-DC1 certainly doesn't like to be hurried along. Luckily the screen has the same kind of generic display as a lot of compact digital SLR cameras on the market, so it is good to see Panasonic offer the similar views and scroll function using the SET and MENU button as go-back or enter functions for the features and options. Of course you can save whatever you shoot, be it a photograph or video in the SD memory card can but I was also disappointed to find that I had to buy my own card, as Panasonic don't include one with this camera. Although the camera can accept both standard and mini size SD memory cards, it needs a memory card to start off with as the memory in the camera is rather small without a card in place. Lastly although the sound quality is good, there can be some hiss which I was not expecting. It isn't as quiet as my Samsung Galaxy Ace in being able to record noise free, but it does pick up a lot more ambient sounds from the built in speaker located on the outer screen backing. I suppose when it comes to editing the video through your chosen device and if you have the option to do so, extra noise reduction or filters can be added to custom build your videos and on my PC or Mac, when recorded in HD quality, the Panasonic videos have a standard mp4 format which requires and uses QuickTime. Final Thoughts Normally as a company Panasonic being typically Japanese by origin are good for ingenuity, quality and design, but I feel somewhat that Panasonic have lost their way here. By offering such a compact camera with a video function and so many other built in features, it is little wonder that it is such a high selling gadget. But at the detriment of fitting the HX-DC1 with a non-common disposable and short life run battery means I've always got to make that compromise of short videos and wondering when the battery on board will run out. Now, were Panasonic to fit their hand held camcorders with a compatible AAA battery cradle where owners could simply swap over - this little hand held camera-camcorder would make a far better investment not just catching the medal winners, but generally used as a portable video camera with power on the go at all times. The successor ranges offer more features but the same kind of battery on offer, making this product and its future replacement still a bit of a compromise. Not quite a gold winner, then Panasonic! Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2013. www.panasonic.co.uk
I was looking for an HD camcorder for weeks, and after hours of researching, i found this cool little camera. I read a few reviews of this product, and i decided to stick with this one and buy it. The aesthetics of the camera are very sleek and nice looking. The quality of thins build of the camera is apparent all around. All the pictures that i have taken came out very crisp and clear. This camera has a flash in it too. When you are taking a full on HD video, the the quality is absolutely fantastic. The flash does not work with the camcorder function. The lighting of the setting you are in is very important. The voice recorder built into the camera is very well functioning. It should be noted that the sound recording it digital stero. This makers all the sounds very crisp when you listen to it later. The only thing that i do not fully like is that the battery is not that good, but a lot of the camera i have had do not have good batteries. The camcorder.camera is well worth the money, in my opinion.