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Panasonic HX-A100 review

Chris Finnamore
19 Oct 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
299
inc VAT

An unusual wearable camcorder with great image stabilisation that is better suited to lifelogging than extreme sports

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Specifications

1/4.1in CMOS sensor, , 0.0x zoom, 167g

The Panasonic HX-A100 isn't strictly an action camera. It's designed more to be worn, like a lifeblogging device, than to be strapped to a helmet or pinned to the roof of a car with a suction mount. However, Panasonic has suggested it can be used for leisure activities such as cycling, so we included it in our action cam roundup.

The camcorder is in two parts; a pack-of-cards-sized control unit, which lets you start and stop recording and take still photos, and the camera itself, which is attached to the control box with a 70cm-long lead. It comes with a headband and ear loop, so you can wear the camera next to your temple, and the control box slots into the provided armband.

Panasonic HX-A100

Wear the camera on your ear and strap the control box to your arm

This means you can wear it without a helmet, but it's definitely less neat than self-contained action cameras, as you still have to worry about the cable getting in the way. Both units are water-sealed, and can withstand water up to 1.5m down.

You can start and stop recording using the buttons on the unit, but to change the camcorder's settings you need to connect to the camcorder over Wi-Fi and use Panasonic's Image App for Android or iOS. This works fine on iOS, but we found the Android app refused to hold a connection to the camera from a 4.1 Jelly Bean smartphone.

Panasonic HX-A100

The camera is on the end of a 70cm lead

Under iOS, we had a smooth live feed and the option to start and stop recording or take photos remotely. We could also change the camcorder's settings, such as flicking between 50fps and 25fps Full HD recording or changing the time lapse shooting interval (you can take continuous photos with gaps of 3, 5, 10, 30 and 60 seconds). The app is unusual in that the live feed will continue even while you're recording; most action cams we've seen just display a blank screen. You can also play back previously-recorded footage, but this was jerky over the Wi-Fi connection.

To test the camera's performance taking fast-moving footage, we strapped it to an HPI Racing Bullet MT radio-controlled truck and went for a spin on a wooded path. The unusual design of the HX-A100 made it tricky to mount on the vehicle; while most action cams come with sticky mounts, the HX-A100's ear loop was no help, so we had to use packing tape.

HPI Racing Bullet MT

We had to tape the camera to our HPI Racing Bullet MT test car

However, we were very impressed with the resulting footage. The HX-A100 has some seriously impressive image stabilisation, leading to reasonably smooth footage even on our very rough test track. It's up there for smoothness with Sony's HDR-AS15. However, our static tests showed up some flaws in the camera's video quality; large areas of grass soon lost detail into the middle distance, becoming a mush of smooth green.

Much smoother footage than many action cams - best viewed full-screen at 1080p

But static video quality is less impressive - best viewed full-screen at 1080p

The HX-A100 isn’t your standard action camera, and if you're more into recording your day to day movements than whitewater rafting or downhill biking you'll appreciate not having to find a solid surface to glue the camera to. It also has impressive image stabilisation, but for most uses we prefer the cheaper Drift HD Ghost.

Basic Specifications

Rating****

Recording

Optical zoom0.0x
Digital zoom0x
Sensor1/4.1in CMOS
Sensor pixels2,800,000
Widescreen modeletterbox
LCD screen sizeN/A
Viewfinder typenone
Video lampNo
Video recording formatH.264
Video recording mediamicroSD
Sound48kHz mono
Maximum image resolution2,000x1,504
Memory slotmicroSD
Mermory suppliednone
Flashno

Physical

Digital inputs/outputsMicro USB
Analogue inputs/outputsnone
Other connectionsnone
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery life2h 32m
Battery charging positioncamcorder
Size25x60x64mm
Weight167g

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£299
Supplierhttp://www.cliftoncameras.co.uk
Detailswww.panasonic.co.uk

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