Panasonic Consumer Electronics is unveiling a four-in-one palm-size device that takes digital snapshots and videos, records and plays audio files, and records live TV and music videos to play on its two-inch swiveling LCD screen.
Two configurations of the device, the SV-AV30 and SV-AV20, are scheduled to ship in April. The US$400 SV-AV30 has a special docking station, with built-in battery charger, to connect to a TV or VCR. The SV-AV20 lacks a docking station and costs US$300.
More Storage Soon
Both configurations have a 2X zoom, use the MPEG-4 standard to record video at 15 frames per second, and have 640 by 480 resolution to capture digital pictures. They have a built-in flash and speaker, along with a standard USB interface.
The units also come with a 64MB SD Memory Card for storing digital files in every format.
On its 64MB card, the SV-AV30 can record about half an hour of television programming in MPEG-4 mode. At the higher-quality MPEG-2 mode, you can figure on capturing about three minutes of video.
You can also add more storage with higher-capacity cards. Those cards max out at 512MB today, but Panasonic--and other vendors--are working on 1GB SD cards. Panasonic expects to release its own high-capacity card this summer.
Think Online, Mobile
On-the-go consumers who are comfortable sharing audio and video files via the Internet or via handheld devices are the target market, according to Panasonic representatives. The units are not aimed at high-end digital device aficionados who are interested in capturing high-quality images for printing or high-quality sound recordings for posterity.
"They want to communicate in the moment with the multiple file types they are accustomed to exchanging," says Andrew P. Nelkin, Panasonic's vice president of digital technologies, of the prospective users. "They want something that's small, portable, and easy to use, something they can take along with them and create on-the-fly voice, music, video, and still pictures."
In one neat feature, the SV-AV20 and SV-AV30 allow easy switching between horizontal and vertical perspectives by automatically compensating for either view.
"It keeps the horizon parallel to the ground," Nelkin says. "That feature also makes it perfect for left-handed users and right-handed users."
Both models include SD Jukebox software for saving and cataloging digital music files. Users can also use the software to combine digital images with their favorite songs.