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|The Tuesday Letter
Looking like something out of a James Bond movie this versatile, miniature e-wear gadget from Panasonic houses a still camera, a digital camcorder, an audio player and a voice recorder.
Unfortunately in use it is not nearly as impressive as it looks or sounds.
The SV-AV10 measures 2.8 x 5 x 8.7 cm and weighs just 98g (without battery and SD card). It also features a flip-out, 5 cm, 112,000-pixel LCD screen.
The 8 MB SD card provided with the unit is just enough to whet your appetite for this convenient medium, but not enough for a serious audio or image collection.
The SV-AV10 comes with an AC adaptor and power cord, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, stereo headphones, USB SD card reader/writer, carrying pouch, a carry strap big enough to wear around your neck and media manager software.
As a video camera the SV-AV10 is intuitive to use. Its small size and lack of features mean few buttons to press. Flip open the LCD screen switch the unit on, select MPEG-4 using the small jog dial and press the record button.
The 320 x 240 resolution is suitable for email or the web and sound is recorded via the built-in microphone. Videos can be played back on the LCD or copied to a PC.
The 640 x 480 resolution used for still photographs is much better, but still not ideal. The built-in flash has to be manually switched on. A fact I only realised after capturing a number of black images. The SV-AV10 does not function well in dim light.
Video and images can be captured in 3 modes --- Fine, Normal or Economy.
The 8 MB SD card can hold 45 still images or about 2 minutes of video recorded in Fine mode.
The LCD can rotate for self portraits, but the screen image has to be flipped using the menu functions.
I found the SV-AV10 a lot more acceptable when used as an audio player and voice recorder.
The headphones are adequate and the SV-AV10 pumps out a decent sound. Menu driven controls and track information is accessed via the LCD.
Audio files can be dragged and dropped onto the SD card using the USB reader/writer but they will not play.
Panasonics Music Manager software --- a version of RealJukebox --- converts AAC and MP3 files into a protected SD Audio format and must be used to transfer the files to the SD card.
RealJukebox works on Windows 98 and above. I tested it on a machine running Windows XP Pro and found it cumbersome to use.
Recording voice notes would be a lot easier if the screen did not have to be flipped open to access the menus.
The 8 MB SD card will hold 25 minutes of voice recording. Users should think of getting at least a 64MB card which will hold about an hour of MP3 audio sampled at 128 Kbps.
Panasonic also has 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 MB SD cards but they are not cheap --- expect to pay AU$999 for a 512 MB card.
The battery provides about 10 hours of MP3 playback time depending on how often the LCD screen is used.
As much as I like the portability of the SV-AV10 I found it too small to be really useful.
Price AU$1099 RRP
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