HD TV video cameras push AVCHD to the limit

Barely five months after announcing the world's first video camera to record HD TV images to an SD memory card, Panasonic has replaced it with a cheaper, more-capable model that it claims breaks new ground.

Last November's HDC-SD1 has been ruthlessly elbowed aside by today's release of the HDC-SD3, which offers video recording at 1920 x 1080i pixels, compared with the earlier model's 1440 x 1080i resolution.

More pixels, less cash

If you're thinking the difference is minimal, you're probably right not to be bothered unless you've just bought the SD1. The newcomer not only lays down a few thousand more pixels per frame, but it's also likely to be ¥30,000 (£129) cheaper at ¥150,000 (£646). That includes a bundled 4GB SDHC card.

Both cameras use the relatively new AVCHD compression technique to fit high-definition video onto current-generation media, such as the SD cards used in this case. A similarly revamped DVD camcorder has also been announced in the shape of the HDC-DX3.

What is HD anyway?

Although Panasonic claims the SD3 and DX3 are the world's first 'Full HD' camcorders, which the 1920 x 1080 specs justify if one overlooks the interlaced/progressive debate, the website for the SD1 and DX1 still prominently touts them as 'Full HD'.

On the cameras themselves, only the latest versions have a corresponding badge, as you'll see in the second photo above. There are no details of the new cameras on the Panasonic website yet.

Aside from the ballyhoo over line counts, upgrades to the included editing software and some minor tweaks to the casing, such as to the grip of the SD3, the new camcorders seem unlikely to make much of a splash when launched in Japan on 25 April.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.