- Unsurpassed high-def visuals, two recording formats in one, plenty of modes and features
- Bulky and unattractive design, poorly designed directional stick
Despite being soundly beaten with the ugly stick, this is a quality piece of hardware capable of capturing beautiful high-def video. If you can get past the bulky design, you won't be disappointed.
Price$ 1,799.00 (AUD)
Keeping up with the camcorder industry can be a pretty tough undertaking. Sometimes, it feels like a new video format is launched every other week, with no end to the madness in sight. Whenever we turn our backs, another form of recordable media leaps out of the woodworks to confuse and frighten us, like some unknowable high-tech monster in a Japanese horror movie. SD or HD? DV or DVD? HDV or AVCHD? The multitude of competing formats and video codecs is getting out of hand -- which is why it makes perfect sense to invest in a hybrid device. After all, if your camera can handle more than one format, it has less chance of becoming obsolete, right?
Panasonic's HDC-SX5 records high-definition video to both DVD discs and SD/SDHC memory cards, making it a versatile choice for indecisive consumers. It can capture moving images at a maximum resolution of 1920x1080i and offers an overall recording time of up to 240 minutes. While its video results are sure to astound you, a few minor design flaws have marred its overall performance.
The first thing that leaps out about this camcorder is its physical design -- and not in a good way. It has been a long while since we've reviewed a model quite so blatantly unstylish; especially in this price range. Compared to the sleek aesthetic of other SD cams, such as the Sony HDR-CX7K and Panasonic HDC-SD5, the HDC-SX5 comes off as distinctly second-rate. In addition to being dull and bulky, the overall look is further compromised by its protruding battery. All up, this is one pug-ugly unit.
Of course, good looks aren't everything. A sense of humour is also important, or in the case of a camcorder, the ability to take great video. Thankfully, this is one area in which the HDC-SX5 more than holds its own. Recording in the AVCHD video format developed by Sony and Panasonic, the unit captured some of the best test footage we've shot to date. Thanks to some fancy engineering, the unit is able to record 1920x1080i high-def video via three 520K pixel CCD sensors. Mathematically this doesn't seem to stack up, but the results speak for themselves.
Whether recording to SD card or DVD disc (DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM and DVD-R DL are all recognised), the footage we shot was universally fantastic, with an intelligent balance between vibrant colours and natural tones. Naturally, it faired a lot better in sunny outdoor environments than it did indoors, where noise swiftly became evident under dim lighting. Nevertheless, its overall performance was top notch, delivering stunning true-to-life HD visuals that should please even the most exacting videophile.
Unfortunately, the dual-nature of the HDC-SX5 does not extend to its stills mode -- with a maximum resolution of just 2 megapixels, this definitely isn't a hybrid device that will replace your compact camera. Although suitable for taking the occasional happy snap, don't expect to make medium-sized prints.
When it came to functionality, we were mostly pleased with the unit's layout with a few minor exceptions. In a presumed attempt to free up camera space, the directional stick is cunningly built into the control dial (so cunning, in fact, that we initially overlooked it). Unfortunately, its tiny size makes it easy to accidentally shift the stick in the wrong direction, which leads to a hellish menu experience. This is quite a shame, because otherwise, the menu interface is intuitively laid out and straightforward to use.
When it comes to modes and features, all the usual suspects have been duly assembled, including manual focus, white balance, adjustable shutter speeds, a 10x optical zoom, an external microphone port, programmable AE modes and an advanced image stabiliser.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- 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
- Jump the line for the newest Chromecast features with Google's new preview program
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- 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
- FTBrand Marketing Manager - Premium Entertainment BrandNSW
- CCDigital Business Analyst l SalesforceNSW
- FTLevel 3 EngineerNSW
- FTLevel 2 Service DeskNSW
- FTLife/400 Testers - Permanent - North Ryde areaNSW
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant Advanced Warehouse ManagementWA
- CCTechnical Business Analyst-DevOpsNSW
- CCSharepoint DeveloperQLD
- CCVMWare Automation ArchitectACT
- FTSoftware Support SpecialistQLD
- CCTest AnalystQLD
- TPContract Manager - ICT Solution DevelopmentSA
- TPDeployment Support EngineerVIC
- TPIT Procurement OfficerQLD
- FTJava DeveloperSA
- TPIDAM ArchitectVIC
- CCChange Manager l Port Macquarie NSWNSW
- FTPerformance Reporting AnalystNSW
- FTApplications Sales ExecutiveWA
- FTProject Manager (Software product development)VIC
- CCProject/ Operational CoordinatorNSW
- FTLevel 2 Service DeskNSW
- FTCloud Orchestration SpecialistVIC
- CCFIS Connex Developer (Brisbane Based)WA
- FTWeb Front- End DeveloperSA