By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Panasonic has joined Cisco, Sony and Sanyo by launching a new handheld multimedia video camera for the nascent social networking generation. The new HM-TA1 is aimed squarely at the youth (and the young-at-heart) market, with an aggressive price point to immediately compete with its more established competitors.

As it the case whenever a new player enters an established market, Panasonic’s emergence as a rival to the MMC players, especially Cisco, will invariably lead to it being called the Flip Killer. This phenomena is best evidenced by the mobile phone market, in which virtually every new smartphone is called an iPhone killer.

The TA1 records video in Full HD MPEG-4 format and captures still images at up to 8 megapixels. It has the now-traditional form factor for a handheld MMC: small, rectangular, with a screen at the top for following the action you are recording.

Importantly for its intended use, the TA1 has an inbuilt USB port for direct file transfer and battery charging, can work with both PCs and Macs, and is compatible with Apple’s iFrame video format. An included software package called HD Writer PE 1.0 can directly upload footage from a PC to YouTube or Facebook, according to group marketing manager, AV, Sophie Barton.

Supported memory card formats include SD, SDXC and SDHC.

Shooting features include Electrical Image Stabiliser, a 4x zoom and several shooting modes, including Soft Skin, sepia and monochrome.

The new Panasonic HM-TA1 multimedia camera, which will be available in grey, red and white, is set for release in mid-September for RRP $249.