We found the tiny, back-mounted jog ball difficult to control. We sometimes overshot the menu selection we wanted and had to backtrack. The LCD menus, however, are clearly marked and logically organized, in part because each function has only a few options. A mode button lets you toggle through photos, videos, and voice when recording and through photos, videos, voice, and music when playing back.
The SV-AV50 is so lightweight, you won't become tired holding it for extended periods of time. The real challenge is making sure you don't place a finger too close to the lens. The fixed lens provides a wide-angle perspective, which means that your finger doesn't have to be directly in front of it in order to show up in the picture. Given the vertical orientation of the case and the back-mounted controls, it can be hard to get a grip while staying clear of the lens. We found it best to use the right thumb for the bottom controls and the left hand for the top controls. One-handed shooting works well, as long as you don't need to access the controls. With no optical zoom, capturing photos and videos is a simple point-and-shoot operation.
Like circus clowns who keep rolling out of a small car, an extraordinary number of functions are packed into this tiny device. But while the Panasonic D-snap SV-AV50 shines in the number of functions it offers, none is anywhere close to full featured.
You can save photos as JPEG files at three resolutions (1,600x1,200, 1,280x960, or 640x480) and two compression rates (Fine and Normal). There are four MPEG-4 video settings: Extra Fine (320x240 at 30fps), Super Fine (320x240 at 15fps), Fine (320x240 at 12fps), and Economy (176x144 at 6fps). A 2.5X digital zoom is available, though it's hardly worth using, as it significantly reduces the image quality. Monaural voice recordings are saved in a proprietary format.
Panasonic provides a software program to help you bring your music into the D-snap SV-AV50. SD-Jukebox 4.0 converts your CDs to 96Kbps AAC files and transfers them to the device via a USB connection. You bypass the computer entirely when bringing prerecorded video into the D-snap. In addition to recharging the battery, the USB cradle acts as an A/V input/output adapter. A supplied cable provides composite-video and stereo-audio plugs, which you can connect directly to a VCR, a DVR, an A/V receiver, or a TV for video recording and playback.