Panasonic HM-TA20 review

The Flip pocket camcorder may be dead, but its legacy lives on in rival products

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  • Waterproof
  • Shockproof
  • Good video quality
  • Good size
  • Funky design


  • No optical zoom
  • Video wobble issues

Despite the fact that Cisco recently killed off its Flip line of camcorders, other manufacturers are keeping the point-and-shoot video camera legacy alive.

Panasonic is doing its part with the Panasonic HM-TA20.

It's a waterproof and shockproof video camera capable of recording Full HD footage, as well as eight-megapixel still images.

With its bright, chunky design, it's intended as a kind of holiday camera you use anywhere and chuck in a bag with a wet towel and sandy shoes, without having to worry about it.

It can record footage in 1080p, 720p and 480p, all at 30fps. It records in H.264 MP4 files to an SD/SDHC/SDXC card, with audio in two-channel AAC, except for the lone audio recording function, which uses LPCM for maximum quality.

The waterproofing is rated for down to three metres, while you should also be able to drop it from 1.5 metres without incident.

panasonic ta20 review

There's an LED flash, which can also be used as a video light, but it's notable only really for being weak. It won't make much of a dent on a dim room, let along a black cave.

You start recording using the big red and silver button on the back, but almost all other functions are performed using the three-inch touchscreen. It's resistive, which means that it's nowhere near as responsive as the touch panels on mobile phones, but this is necessary trade-off - capacitive touchscreens don't work well (if at all) in water.

You have to hold the TA20 upright to record, which is a little annoying, since it restricts the screen to portrait orientation. This means that you're always viewing it in a portion of the screen, although this does mean Panasonic's been able to fit some controls below, including the zoom controls. When playing back, you can view in landscape or portrait, though.

panasonic hm ta20 review

Panasonic's intelligent auto (iA) system is in use here, which adjusts the exposure and white balance as you go. It's paired with a live facial recognition system, so whoever you're recording will be presented in the best light possible. It's also got a much-improved night mode to round it off.

The TA20 is about the size of a modern smartphone, though a fair bit thicker. It's light enough to stick in a pocket and carry around without really noticing.

In the box, you get a USB cable and a small tripod. The placement of the threaded hole right on the edge of the TA20 makes this little tripod a little delicate, but it's capable of doing a job.Oh, and it can be picked up for around £150.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital Camcorder
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Number of Image Sensors1
Effective Image Resolution5.1 Megapixel
Effective Video Resolution2.9 Megapixel
Recording MediaMemory Card
Image StabilizationElectronic
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD
Recording FormatsFull HD
Built-in DevicesSpeaker, Microphone, Video Light
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH, WEEE
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeLive MOS
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Height112 mm
Width64.3 mm
Depth17.7 mm
Product ModelHM-TA20
Product NameHM-TA20 High Definition Digital Camcorder
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberHM-TA20EB-D
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The HM-TA20 is equipped with Night View Mode, which lets you shoot with twice the brightness of the previous model. When shooting, this function automatically detects dark scenes and the mode selector button lights up on the LCD screen. Simply press the button to start shooting with Night View Mode. And you can shoot clear images with minimal noise even in dark scenes, such as dimly lit indoor shots or party scenes.

Package Contents
  • HM-TA20 High Definition Digital Camcorder
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack
  • USB Cable
  • Software Media HD Writer PE2.0
  • Stylus Pen
  • Tripod Stand
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)153 g