Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Panasonic TA-1: Its an HD Pocket Camcorder, a Skype webcam and has an LED light.

Just saw this new Panasonic TA-1 Ultra-thin HD Pocket Camcorder Enabled with Skype and iFrame on

This is interesting.

1080p Video with Image Stabilization
The TA-1 shoots 1080p FULL HD video with Electronic Image Stabilization. It also has a built in built in LED light. I'll be interested to see how that compares to the entry level external Sima LED light.

The camera uses iFrame format. This is the first camera I've seen that uses this new format.

Wikipedia has some info on iFrame:
iFrame is a constraint of the H.264 codec specified by Apple to ensure ease of consumer video editing.

It provides a square-pixel 16:9 image format of 960 horizontal by 540 vertical pixels, with progressive scanning at 30 frames per second and can be identified as the format "540p30". These parameters are one-half the spatial resolution of 1080p in each direction, one-quarter the total number of pixels. iFrame has 1.5 times the number of pixels in standard definition 4:3 720×480 CCIR 601 NTSC video. However, its progressive scanning increases the approximate perceived resolution advantage over 480i to roughly a factor of 2.

The 30 fps frame rate used for iFrame may result in increased "judder" with moving images, when compared to the nominal frame rate of 60 fields per second (30 fps interlaced with even and odd lines) used in North America for professional video.
More on iFrame from Apple: iMovie '09: About the iFrame video format:
The iFrame Video format is designed by Apple to speed up importing and editing by keeping the content in its native recorded format while editing. Setting a camcorder to record in the iFrame video format can result in optimized performance in iMovie ’09.

Webcam and Microphone
The TA-1 also works as a Web camera and microphone. I've never seen this feature on a pocket HD video camera. People always ask if their pocket HD video cameras can also be used as webcams. This is a great idea, since I'm starting to see standalone HD webcams. Can't wait to test this feature out. Note that The LED light does not go on when operating as a Web camera.

USB Cable Warning
Panasonic also notes in the product specs:
Do not use any USB extension cord other than the supplied one (Operation is not guaranteed with any other USB extension cord.).
That's troubling since I use 100 different USB cables, ususaly the one I have with me. Having to use a specific cable is problematic.

Don't we have a USB 2.0 standard?

According to Panasonic, the HM-TA1 will be available in three different color options, purple, dark grey and red in August 2010 with a suggested retail price of $169.95.

1 comment:

  1. Nice and interesting post, Steve. I will have to look into whether the iFrame format can be edited on a PC. Some Apple codecs can not.

    Agree that Webcam option is a cool feature...assume that means they could be used with Ustream and similar features.

    Very curious how this will compare with the Zi8. I love my Zi8 though I have been having sound quality issues when I connect real good quality microphones to them like the Rode NTG-2.

    Wonder if this one would be better.

    Looking forward to your review.