"HD Video Quality is breath taking but camcorder could use a couple design tweaks"4.0 starson by famu97
Pros: Briliant Live-Like 1080 HD Video Quality, quality low-light shots, brilliant colors, 5.1 Surround Snd, HDMI Connection
Cons: No software for basic editing or to copy video footage to hard-drive, no drivers to enable PC's to recognize DVD-ROM to port video, poor battery placement, poor view finder
Summary: This camcorder takes the best video picture quality from any HD camcorder $1200 or less, on the market today... even compared to the Sony HD camcorders. The 3-CCD technology enables this camcorder to capture more brillaint colors in low light and even at a distant. The 5.1 surround sound mic really works to record sound in 5 directions. My design complaints about this camcorder is with the battery placement. The battery sticks out in the back plus the battery hides the A/C power jack so that you must remove the battery to plug in A/C power. It doesn't allow you to plug the camcorder in to A/C to simultaneously charge the battery and continue using the camcorder without having to power it off and remove the battery completely. this was obviously done by design but for the life of me I can't figure out why. Also, the view finder is worthless to me. They could have saved some space by leaving that off completely. You can barely see anything through the view finder. The LCD screen is more than adequate for record and playback. You can view the LCD perfectly in all lighting situations. The one thing that's a must buy is Dual Layer mini-DVD's that are two sided, otherwise you can only fit 14 mins of HD video on a regular DVD-R. Potential buyers should take a look at the SD Card version of this HD camcorder from Panasonic. If you don't want to deal with mini-DVD ROMS. The SD card makes transfer of video easier since the camcorder is recognized as a temp flash drive. I didn't want to be limited by the SD High Capacity (SDHC) cards that are only 8GB right now. There are higher capacity SD cards coming out but they are super expensive right now. I'd have to say that the still digital camera functionality with flash takes pretty good shots. I'd still recommend a dedicated digital camera for superior digital still image quality. Finally I have to say shame on Panasonic for not supplying basic video editing software & drivers with the camcorder considering that there are currently only two software packages available that can edit the new AVCHD format (Nero & Pinnacle 11.1). Also with out the right 3rd-party DVD-ROM format drivers installed on your PC, it won't recognize the camcorders DVD-ROM to be able to copy the video to your hard-drive. It works fine with the Nero In-CD software installed. Another reason Panasonic should have included software. Bottom line is that Panasonic made a great HD camcorder but could have tweaked the design a little to put it completely over the top.