Review: Panasonic D-Snap SV-AS10
Don Bradbury tries out a diddy multi-function device for your entertainment
|We like||Tiny, good control, decent picture quality.|
|We don't like||SD card too small.|
While digital cameras, MP3 players, voice memo devices and video recorders are objects of desire for many technophiles, combining all of these into a single vest pocket unit weighing in at 74gms (with battery and memory card) might seem a little optimistic. Panasonic think otherwise, and their D-snap SV-AS10 is a brave attempt to prove the point.
Powered by a rechargeable battery that is topped up via a neat cradle arrangement, and holding your precious data on a Secure Digital card (albeit of only 8MB capacity as supplied), the unit also comes with an AC adapter, remote controller, stereo earphones, USB cable for connection to your PC, a hand strap and felt carrying case, and a CD bearing all the software you need. Even a tiny cleaning cloth is included for the colour LCD screen - which is, it has to be said, rather exposed to finger prints.
Charge the battery for 2 hours, insert the media card, switch on the camera, and you can get 8 shots at the 'finest' 1600 x 1200 resolution on the 8MB card, or up to 62 shots at 640 x 480 on the 'normal' setting. Intermediate settings are available.
Don't expect extraordinary quality output, but with this 2 megapixel CCD and rotatable f4 Panasonic lens combo we captured shots good enough to satisfy most expectations of such a device, with good colour rendition, and decent resolution of detail. To engage macro mode, with focusing down to 10cm, you just throw a switch on the lens. In short, the camera is capable of producing a standard print you wouldn't be ashamed to show to friends. Exposure is controlled by the D-snap varying its shutter speed, though there's no indication of the speed being used or the range available (via the ISO setting for example).
On the same size card (8MB), you could also grab 33 secs of motion picture at 320 x 240, or 13 mins 17 secs of voice memo via the integral mono microphone. Playback is through earphones that plug into the remote controller, the latter fitted with a pocket clip for joggers.
The remote is also to be preferred to the unit's main device for scrolling through your pictures on the rather nice, variable brightness, 1.5inch LCD screen. A Jog Ball can be rolled with a finger, and although that works, progress is more positive if you plug in the remote and use that. It has + and - keys that do the job rather better.
Menu operation is also slightly difficult using the Jog Ball, but again it works if you take care. And it has to be admitted that the menus offer a wider range of options that users might reasonably anticipate. After setting the date and time, you can change things like the ISO sensitivity (up to 400) or leave it on auto; white balance, picture quality of course, the usual range of flash options, select the self-timer, or a night mode (slow shutter), or opt for exposure compensation + or - 2EV in 1/3 EV steps (oh, yes!).
The menus also let you select burst mode frame capture, delete pictures and other files of course. It also lets you format the card completely, operate playback zoom in multiple stages, mark favourite shots to display later as thumbnails, lock selected files, or show pictures as a slideshow on the LCD. DPOF print options are also included whereby to inform your print shop which and how many, in the usual way.
You can, of course, as well as capturing simple voice memos, add audio to your still pictures, or capture short video clips, complete with audio. You can even resize pictures to make them smaller (in resolution), or alter the colour of still pictures to monochrome or sepia.
No fewer than three shutter release buttons are featured. Two on the main body, and another on the remote. The latter is useful if you want to either get into the shot yourself, or to eliminate camera shake - if you can find some way to fix the camera in position.
There's another neat way to get yourself into a close-up shot, and that's to rotate the lens so that both lens and LCD are on the same side of the body. Neat! Digitally zooming the image (in multiple stages) before capture is also possible, though quality deteriorates if you do.
MP3 facilities include playback of cards carrying music files, catering for AAC and WMA as well as MP3. The volume can be adjusted via the menus or the remote control, and fast forward/rewind and index search are there, and even a very basic equalizer is built in.
Again, not exactly hi-fi, but this is perfectly adequate for routine music playing while out and about. You'll probably need a bigger capacity memory card, and you might even need to invest in a second battery. It's easily removable, but you get a decent length of play time from the supplied battery.
We had no trouble with the Panasonic D-snap; it offered a range of features that we wouldn't expect in such a device, though it is, it has to be conceded, not cheap. The important picture quality is respectable - better than you'd expect from a mobile camera/phone, for example, though not as good as a dedicated 2 megapixel digicam at anything like the same price. In short, we liked the Panasonic D-snap SV-AS10. Don't set your expectations too high, watch out for camera shake, buy a bigger memory card, and we think you will like it, too.