Panasonic HX-A100 action camera pictures and hands-on

Panasonic has always made good, solid and high-quality camcorders. The problem is, video-only devices are dying a little bit in this day and age. The reason, as you might expect, is that lots of people are using phones and still cameras to capture their video.

And then there's GoPro, and the other action camcorders, which have suddenly become all the rage. These small, portable and amazingly rugged camcorders are popular because they can survive an apocalylse, don't cost the earth, and offer flexibility and quality that was impossible a few years ago.

Now Panasonic wants in on this market, so it's devised one of these action cameras. But rather than just copying what's already out there, the company has come up with something a bit different. The result is a camera that bolts to a mount designed to be worn on your head. Unlike the GoPro, there's no requirement for a helmet mount, or a hard mount to something else. The Pani is worn on a band that goes around the back of your head, and is located quite close to one of your eyes.

It's also set up differently. First, the camera has no built-in recorder. Instead, it's connected via a cable to a separate recorder. The battery and microSD card are located in here and it's designed to be worn somewhere else on your body, or slung in a pocket.

While we like this system, it's also where the flaws were on the prototype we saw - Panasonic hasn't announced a firm date for this camera yet, aside from saying that it will be coming this year. The first flaw is that the battery can't be removed, this is a big problem for long-term use, and is sure to put some people off. The other, arguably, is that cable, which while fine for most uses, doesn't work as simply as a GoPro does.

On the plus side, the Panasonic action cam has some massive advantages. It's got Wi-Fi built in, which allows for live broadcast over the internet, as well as control via a mobile application. You also get a f/2.5 lens with a 160-degree field of vision.

The camera can record 1080p at 60fps, 720p at 120fps and 640p at 240fps. That's some serious potential for slow motion right there, or you could make your own debut into Hobbit-style high frame rate cinema, if you like.

There are no details yet on what the price will be, although Panasonic said it would compete with the other similar cameras on the market. As for release date, there was no info about this either when we saw the demo unit.