Palm-sized D-Snap appealingly portable, a bit less practical


What's Hot

April 22, 2004|By Kevin E. Washington

Though never a fan of the tiniest gadgets, I found Panasonic's SV-AV100 D-Snap Video Camera ($1,000) appealing.

It is so small and lightweight (.34 pounds) that it fits in the palm of your hand or a shirt pocket, yet the movies it shoots are pretty good - which is to say only a tad less gorgeous than those recorded by camcorders onto Mini-DV tapes.

The D-Snap records MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 videos to a tiny SD memory card. The MPEG-4 images have lots of artifacts (glitches in fidelity caused by compression), so you probably won't want to record too much in that mode. But the DVD-quality MPEG-2 is great - sharp as just about any camcorder can be - as long as you aren't moving around too much. When the camcorder is on the move, distortion is a bit high.

The 10X optical zoom is very good and you can shoot 2-megapixel JPEG digital still photographs, which seemed a sight better than most of the digital snapshots that I've taken with Mini-DV camcorders.

A 512-megabyte SD card will allow you to record up to about 10 minutes of footage in MPEG-2 format, not nearly as much as you would with a Mini-DV camcorder using a Mini-DV tape on high quality. I'm also not a great fan of the tiny SD memory cards, which seem so easy to lose. But I liked moving video from the camcorder's SD card, because all I needed to do was pop the memory card into one of the two memory card readers that are part of the printers I'm using. That alone gives the D-Snap the advantage over some camcorders that have to be plugged in to your computer.

If you don't have a card reader, though, don't despair. The D-Snap comes with a cool A/V cradle and software that makes transferring video to a computer a breeze. Moreover, you can use the A/V cradle to watch your video on television.

The only real drawback this camcorder has is that it can't be mounted on a regular tripod - a serious problem because of the on-the-move-distortion trouble. Unless your tripod has some sort of clamping device rather than a screw to hold a camera or camcorder in place, you're out of luck. There isn't the screw receptor built into this camcorder that most have, and that might be a deal-breaker for folks who want to set the camcorder in place for their kid's plays and recitals rather than holding it the whole time.

In other words, I liked the SV-AV100 for its portability - it's easy to take anywhere to get a few short video clips. But using it for a long time for a single event (unless you like holding your camcorder) isn't a great use for this little puppy.

Information: 800-272-7033 or

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.