A great on-the-go camera that lets you forget it is along for the ride. It is a good quality product, very stylish. When it finally works, it works well. A hardware's downfall would be its short battery life while streaming and that the battery is neither removable nor you can connect the camera to a power source while streaming. But I keep my first opinion about the software part (Lumix Club & the mobile application): both are buggy and poorly designed. It is a shame to have software looking like a development version with such a good hardware. The head mount that comes with it is acceptable but not great; you have to use it as there is no other way to mount this camera. That is a serious problem in any other application. The cable to the controller is only about 2 feet long which also makes it difficult to use in other mounting applications. I did not use any of the included software as it is not necessary or useful, also the manual not really clear explain how to use device, but when you actually find out camera work very well. Also its will be really great if the camera will include memory card. You cannot do anything with this camera without the card. In the end I wont to say that its works like a charm for I-phone or I-pad. Now just talk about this camera more detailed: The A100 is rather well designed, we think. It's a departure from the GoPro method, and it keeps the camera section separate from the recorder section. This is an interesting idea that does open up some new avenues, and also some frustrations. The camera section is small, and is tied to the recorder with a fixed cable. This can't be removed or replaced, which is a little worrying as it could break and render the whole device useless. Cables are always a bit of a problem in this regard, and we always like to see that devices have a method of easy replacement if a component goes wrong. Still, that's quite unlikely to happen, and the cable is thick, well insulated and feels like it will survive a lot of use. The record sections is quite simple. There are five buttons on the front, which are for power, video recording, still capture, Wi-Fi and locking the device. On the right-hand side, there's a switch which enables you to unlock a compartment within which the microSD slot and USB connector live. And that's pretty much all there is on the surface of the device. In the pack you get a headband, which is used to wear the camera section, and there's also an armband which you would use to hold the recorder section while you're doing whatever it is you happen to be doing with this camera. Lets talk about Stabilization System with the head-mount, the Panasonic does the same thing, it gives you a view that's nearly identical to what you see as you go about your life. It's actually enormously pleasing to watch, and even though footage isn't Steadicam smooth, having it attached to your head does give it more stability than any hand-held camera. Along with being visually pleasing, the head mount means you don't have to worry about where you point the camera: just look that way, and you'll get a shot of what you want. It does take a little thought, because you need to remember not to randomly look at things that catch your eye, or it can be disconcerting to watch. Given some good light, the picture quality of video from the A100 is actually very good. Indoor light sensitivity is also pretty bad. What you tend to get is quite washed-out colours with lots of noise. This is a problem when light levels fall, but give it enough ambient light and results are watchable. But really, this isn't a camera for indoors, and if you need to record stuff inside, get one of Panasonic's other cameras that have near-professional levels of gain. Where video pretty much always remains watchable though, stills are a whole other level of not very good. Detail is almost non-existent here, and drop light levels to the point where no dedicated compact camera would struggle, and they really fall apart. As with all these small, sports cameras, sound is an issue. Go fast on a bike, say, and you'll get loads of wind noise. Put it in a quieter environment, and the wind noise goes, but you get lots of handling noise when you move or touch any part of the camera. It's a bit annoying, but not unique to this camera at all. The good news is that dialogue, when recorded, is really clear. It lacks low-end punch, but the quality and clarity is very good. This means that it will record conversations well, and we can see that being quite a nice use for this little setup. There's no real way to replace the on-board audio though, short of recording on another device, then dubbing it later and spending ages getting the sync right. Astute readers will notice that there is no screen on the A100. To get around this, Panasonic has an app that allows you to use a smartphone as a screen. We found it worked well, and for the purposes of remote controlling the camera, it's simple to use, and gives you everything you need to get the camera set-up. Having said that, it's actually surprising how little you need the app. Put the camera on, using the head mount, and you'll find that it automatically frames the same things you're looking at - which stands to reason. You need to watch the angle of the camera, because it can be changed, as can the rotation, so it's important to make sure it's not recording at 90 degrees or something before you go and do some once-in-a-lifetime activity. At times, the connection of the app can be a little bit of a pain. You need to connect your phone to the camcorder's own Wi-Fi network, and then start the app, or it simply won't work. But once it's connected, we found the range surprisingly good and the connection stable. One of the things we do like is the reasonably hassle-free way you can switch the camera to slow-no mode. It does involve using the app - but then most advanced features do - but once you've done it there's nothing else to do. You don't need to mess about in post production slowing the footage down, it is simply converted by the camera from 50p down to 25p, and in so doing reduces the speed by 50 per cent. The big problem we found was that it does this at the expense of a bit of picture sharpness. Outside in daylight, we don't think this will be a big deal, but inside it shows up quite noticeably. As this feature is more than likely going to be used by people doing sports, we think the picture quality will be much less of an issue overall. Certainly, the quality of the slow motion is so good, you can forgive the quality loss. The big problem with the A100 is its lack of removable battery. This would have been a simple fix for Panasonic, but the firm has opted for an internal cell that isn't user serviceable. Battery life, however, is good enough. We used it in various modes for more than two hours and had no problems. We also recorded solidly for over 45 minutes, and still had enough charge to mess around with it at the end of the day. The problem, of course, comes if you're away from reliable power, doing something extreme, or in the cold where batteries don't last as long. It's forgivable to some extent, as Panasonic has cleverly opted for USB recharging, which means you can recharge from anything from a laptop to a portable phone charging pack. The HX-A100 is a tough camcorder to score. There are a few little things about it I don't like. Id love to be able to swap the battery, and the picture quality is a little on the soft side, with too much noise in less than perfect conditions. On the other hand, it's a really well thought-out product. The view you get is so ideal for extreme sports, but also has uses in other types of production. It gives you a human perspective, and can produce footage with more impact because you can relate to it. Overall, I think it's solid though, and it's not desperately overpriced considering the competition. And even this camera has some minuses I will definitely recommend it.
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