Jumping into the compact–DV-camcorder fray, Panasonic’s PV-VM202 offers features similar to that of its competitors (see Reviews, November 2002) — it’s tiny, it provides good video quality, and it has removable storage for still images — but the PV-VM202 also has a design that allows you to convert it into a very small digital-still camera.
The single-chip, MiniDV PV-VM202 packs all the features you’d expect; its 10¥ optical zoom lens provides a good focal range, its controls are well laid out, and it offers a full assortment of digital and analog connections. The camera also includes built-in microphone and headphone jacks — necessities for high-quality audio recording.
The PV-VM202 offers decent video quality, but like most single-CCD camcorders, it suffers from oversharpening and yields annoying moving artifacts in high-contrast areas. The camera’s uniqueness lies in its modular design; you can remove the videotape-transport mechanism — the part that holds the videotape — and replace it with a battery module, reducing the camera’s size by half and turning the unit into a dedicated digital-still camera.
The camera also includes a multimedia-card slot for storing still images and Web-resolution video clips. Unfortunately, like its competition, the PV-VM202 makes a lousy still camera. Its low-resolution still images lack detail and are plagued with artifacts.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you want the best video quality and you can spend more, you’d be better served by a three-CCD camcorder. If you need both a video and a still camera and don’t have high still-image standards, the PV-VM202’s design offers great flexibility and good value.