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I bought this camcorder online in 1999. It cost me £600 and was priced at £900 in Dixons. The main features I was looking for at time were: 1. Brand reliability 2. Digital format 3. LCD screen The slightly bigger size did not bother me much. I have taken it abroad and so far have recorded over 20 mini Digital Video cassettes. Every time, I've got perfect results especially when there was adequate lighting. However, in darker areas the camera does loose some color differentiation and the recordings are a bit bland. Night view works fine, allowing black & white movies to be recorded in the dark. Although I have only used it a couple of times, it is more of an entertainer rather than a necessity. One feature which completely impressed me was the Zoom microphone feature. When selected, it zooms the microphone along with the optical zoom so that far away objects not only come nearer, they sound near as well. And with 20x optical zoom you can make some really clever recordings. Talking of zoom, the remote control enables you to zoom the recordings during playbacks. This feature can be entertaining at times. The camera also has a motion sensor which starts recording on detecting movement. If you are having security problems, this feature can be useful, provided the camcorder itself doesn't get nicked! There is an option to take photos as well. However, each picture is stored as a 6-second still on the tape rather than on a separate card. That's why I haven't used the feature much. There are some advantages though, which mention below. Connectivity: The camcorder came with RCA (rounded yellow, white & red) and S-Video cables. My VCR did not have these connectors so I had to purchase a Scart-to-RCA/S-VHS converter. There is also an iLink connector which allows the camcorder to be connected to a PC. Theoretically, you can transfer all your recordings to a computer
via a FireWire cable and subsequently burn the videos onto CDs or DVDs. However, I was told that having DV-in is almost essential for such operations, which this camcorder lacks (it's only DV-out). Still picture out: A friend's similar camcorder came with the kit to convert still pictures on to a PC. I borrowed it, and tried it out. Unfortunately, the software was not very impressive and the connector used the serial port which is not the fastest in the world. There was one useful feature though - if you have taken several still shots in between 'normal' video recordings, the software scans the video tape to capture all stills. The images can then be saved or emailed from the computer. Battery life is OK. I don't have anything to compare it with but it has never let me down. Overall, it is a decent camcorder. However, it is let down by Panasonic's miserliness in not providing some useful peripheral connectors.