Panasonic HDC-HS20-K high-definition camcorder
A Full HD Panasonic camcorder with Intelligent Auto and an 80GB hard drive
- Attractive and sturdy design, beginner-friendly modes and features, optical image stabiliser
- Components could be of higher quality, outclassed by some of its rivals
The Panasonic HDC-HS20-K is a reasonable high-definition camcorder with some very user-friendly features. If you're new to video and want the Full HD treatment, this model mostly delivers.
Price$ 1,649.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic HDC-HS20-K is a Full HD video camera with 80GB of inbuilt memory. It shares many similarities with the Panasonic HDC-SD20-K (RRP: $1099), including an effective pixel count of 1.47-megapixels, a 1/6in CMOS sensor and an identical feature set. Even its name sounds confusingly similar. In fact, the only thing separating this camcorder from its cheaper sibling is the addition of the afore-mentioned hard drive (the HDC-SD20-K is SD card-only).
Despite the inclusion of a hard drive, the Panasonic HDC-HS20-K is not much bigger than the HDC-DS20-K. With dimensions of 69x64x128mm, it’s only a few centimetres larger than its flash memory–based cousin. It is significantly heavier, however. At 360g, it weighs almost 100g more than the DS20-K, though we found this didn’t detract from its usability (some users may even prefer the extra weight, as it helps to keep the camera properly centred).
In terms of design, the Panasonic HDC-HS20-K is a handsomely crafted camcorder. The robust casing is finished in a subtle black glitter, while an assortment of technical logos and badges lend it a prestigious air. We remain violently opposed to the protruding back battery, however; something that has blighted more Panasonic camcorders than we can count. On the plus side, at least it blends in with the HDC-HS20-K’s black finish, unlike the silver HS20-K. Apart from this small quibble, it is one of the better looking camcorders we’ve seen in this price range.
The Panasonic HDC-HS20-K device fits well in the palm and has a good sense of heft. The added weight, combined with Panasonic’s optical image stabiliser, should ensure your handheld footage remains smooth and shake-free. Unfortunately, no external audio options are included with this camcorder, which means you’re stuck with the 5.1ch zoom microphone. Thankfully, it acquits itself well in all but the windiest conditions. It would've been nice to have an accessory hot shoe though — instead, the Panasonic HDC-HS20-K comes with nothing.
Alongside its SD20-K sibling, the Panasonic HDC-HS20-K is the first camcorder from Panasonic to feature an LCD touch screen, as opposed to a directional joystick. This is sure to go down a treat with mainstream consumers, who can’t seem to get enough of touch-based technology. For a debut effort, it’s not half bad either, with large and responsive icons that are easy to understand. We found it compared favourably to Sony's handycam range, which has included models with touch screens for years.
There’s a decent array of modes and features tucked away on this camera, including adjustable shutter speed and exposure, manual focus (via touch-screen prompts), a Soft Skin mode, AF/AE Tracking, face detection, a selection of scene modes and Intelligent Auto (Ai). As its name implies, Intelligent Auto is an advanced automatic/easy mode geared towards novice users. It automatically adjusts exposure levels, prioritises human faces and swaps between scene modes to suit the shooting situation. In addition, it also alerts you with handy onscreen prompts when you do something wrong (such as panning the camera too quickly.) If you’ve never touched a camcorder before, or are planning to buy one for your granny, the HS20-K’s iA mode is an enticing proposition.
We’re almost at the end of the review and we haven’t even mentioned image quality yet. Well, there’s not much we can add that wasn’t already said in our Panasonic HDC-SD20-K review — both camcorders produced identical results. In short, its scant pixel count and undersized sensor cannot hope to match the likes of the Canon HF11 or Sony HDR-CX12, two similarly priced camcorders with superior optics. That said, most users will be satisfied by the HDC-SD20-K’s output, which remains sharp and colourful in optimum lighting.
With an RRP of $1649, the Panasonic HDC-HS20-K costs $549 more than the HDC-SD20-K. This may seem like an unacceptable mark-up, given how cheap HDD technology is these days. However, it’s important to note that removable flash memory is a far costlier alternative — amassing 80GB of SD cards for the HDC-SD20-K will cost you around $1500. This makes the HDC-HS20-K a comparatively better buy, regardless of how overpriced its hard drive might be. With a maximum bitrate of 17 megabits per second, the HDC-HS20-K will store around 10 hours of AVCHD video on its 80GB hard drive.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Lexar® Portable SSD
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- HBO brought its best shows to life at SXSW with an awesome escape room
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTData and Insights AnalystNSW
- FTApplication Support LeadQLD
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!QLD
- CCFull-stack Software EngineerNSW
- CC.NET Developer!QLD
- CCSystems EngineerACT
- FTICT Business Development Manager - Technical Products/SolutionsQLD
- FTSolutions Architects - 10 roles availableACT
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Engineer - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- TPProgram ArchitectQLD
- FTLevel 3 Systems EngineerNSW
- FTFinancial ERP Customer - Solution Consultant / System AccountantNSW
- FTSenior Project ManagerNSW
- TPSenior Node.JS DeveloperNSW
- FTSnr Salesforce Technical Consultant/Architect Global IT Company - SydneyNSW
- FTDirector, Centre for Cyber Security SolutionsVIC
- CCBusiness Analyst Team LeadNSW
- TPSoftware EngineerWA
- FTNetwork EngineerACT
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- FTSenior Lead Developer/Architect - TelcoVIC
- FTICT Business Development Manager - Technical Products/SolutionsQLD
- CCExecutive SupportWA
- TPProject Manager - General InsuranceNSW