Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
The Panasonic HDC-HS100 is a compact high-definition camcorder with a 60GB hard drive.
- Compact size, lots of manual controls, optical image stabiliser
- Unwieldy joystick interface, sub-par image quality, too expensive for what it offers
If the images from Panasonic's HDC-HS100 equalled its great handling and usability, this model would be a clear winner. The HS100 provides the best controls we've seen in a small HD camcorder, but the images lag behind those of AVCHD camcorders such as the Sony Handycam HDR-SR12 and Canon HF10 camcorders — and those models offer decent usability, to boot.
Price$ 2,089.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic HDC-HS100 camcorder is a better camera than it's predecessor the Panasonic HDC-HS9, with improved image quality and greater usability. However, the $2089 HDC-HS100 has only narrowed — not closed — the image-quality gap between its own video and that of the top HD camcorders in its class. If you disregard image quality, the HS100 is a clear winner, but it's hard to ignore a "small" thing such as image quality, especially at this model's price.
The Panasonic HDC-HS100 records HD video as AVCHD files on to a 60GB hard drive at four quality settings. The highest-quality setting records 17mbps, 1920x1080 images at either 60 interlaced frames per second (60i, which definitely looks like video) or 24 progressive frames per second (24p, which looks more like film). The hard drive holds about 7.5 hours of 17mbps video.
The Panasonic HDC-HS100 can also record to user-supplied SD/SDHC cards. In our testing, we evaluated 17-mbps video files. While the HS9 had three underperforming 1/6-inch CCDs, the Panasonic HDC-HS100 HD senses images on three higher-quality 1/6-inch CMOS chips. Under typical lighting conditions, HD image quality looked good, with noticeably better contrast and resolution than what the HS9 produced. However, it also showed some extraneous noise.
Colours appeared oversaturated, a hyped-up look that may appeal to some users but not to those looking for accurate colour reproduction. The Panasonic HDC-HS100's low-light video was fair (about the same as the HS9's low-light performance), with a noticeable amount of visual noise and a lack of sharpness.
Still images lack the colour, exposure, and distortion performance of some other HD camcorders. Overall, video and stills from the Panasonic HDC-HS100 showed a bit less resolution and colour accuracy than imagery from top-rated HD camcorders, but the results remain acceptable.
Image drawbacks aside, the Panasonic HDC-HS100 is a pleasure to use. Beginners will quickly take to the automatic mode, which does an excellent job of optimising the camera settings for the shooting environment. The menus are also very helpful for novices, as they include concise explanations of how and when to use the camera's features.
Experienced users will enjoy the broad array of manual controls, including zoom, focus, white balance, shutter, and aperture settings. They'll probably also appreciate the manual-control ring encircling the lens; it's like a lens-focus ring that you can turn to adjust other settings, too. Sounds odd, but it works great. Those on the professional end of the spectrum will value the Panasonic HDC-HS100's viewfinder, headphone, and microphone jacks, as well as the accessory shoe.
Everyone will welcome the Panasonic HDC-HS100's 12x zoom lens, the smooth optical image stabiliser, the very good audio performance, the accurate (though sometimes slow) autofocus, the nearly 2-hour battery life (it lasted 1 hour, 59 minutes in tests), the bright 2.7in LCD, and the comprehensive 159-page printed user manual.
But few users will like the tiny control joystick stuck on the right side of the Panasonic HDC-HS100, which is placed too awkwardly to use effectively. And that's saying nothing of the poorly placed HDMI, USB, and DC power ports, which are all hidden behind the battery.
On the software side, Panasonic bundles HD Writer 2.6E, a limited but functional Windows-only editing application. Mac users can edit the Panasonic HDC-HS100's AVCHD video with iMovie '08. On either platform you'll want to use a computer built around a 2GHz Intel Core Duo or better processor, as well as at least a couple of gigabytes of RAM.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P20 Pro review: See it and believe the hype
- 2 Nokia 8 Sirocco review: A unique flagship that's more of a mutation than a market-leader
- 3 Nokia 6 (2018) review: Simple. Solid. Supreme.
- 4 Samsung Q9F Series QLED: Peak performance from a home entertainment heavyweight
- 5 Sony Xperia XA2 review: One last hurrah for OmniBalance
Latest News Articles
- Swann refine their smart security solution with new solar panel
- Netgear recall Arlo power adapters
- Canon Strengthens 2:3” Broadcast Lens Range
- Canon Introduces Cinema EOS C700 FF Camera and More
- Netgear Launches the Arlo Go LTE Wire-Free Camera on Telstra’s Mobile Network
PCW Evaluation Team
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
- Huawei P20 Pro review: See it and believe the hype
- Computex 2018: Nvidia launches new AI-focused hardware and software platforms
- Computex 2018: Everything you missed at Asia's biggest tech tradeshow
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?