Toshiba has put both high definition and large capacity into the hands of the everyday shooter with its venture into the HD camcorder world. The Gigashot line of A and K series models present a 100GB hard drive in the top-end A100F costing around £849. But with this much power, will expectations be on filming epics rather than the everyday?
The A100F adopts the familiar camcorder next-door form factor. The swivelling 76mm (3-inch) 16:9 LCD screen opens out to the left, with a 230,000-pixel screen resolution. Opening and closing the enormous screen puts the camcorder into standby mode.
The bulbous right hand-side has a satisfying rubberised grip with an adjustable padded strap. Your index finger controls the wonderfully responsive zoom rocker, and a dedicated stills shutter button. This allows you to capture still images to SD or SDHC cards while filming, which we like. The video record button is pressed with the right thumb, but the other controls on the back are placed for left-handed operation. They are set into a neat transparent plate.
Functions and settings are controlled by a mini-joystick set into the screen bezel, with a spry scroll wheel above it. The connection sockets, including USB, AV out, component terminal and HDMI, are protected by a rubber seals on the left of the camcorder -- handy for beach use.
The A100F brings a comfortable weightiness, with the heft of the camcorder steadlily balanced in the right hand. The two-tone silver and black styling is suavely understated, spoiled only by the protrusion of the battery at the rear -- par for the camcorder course, sadly. The A100F lacks an accessory hotshoe, but that shouldn't be an issue for the average consumer.
The feature set on this camcorder wasn't made with a budding filmmaker in mind. As mentioned, there's no accessory shoe, and it lacks a viewfinder too, so you don't have the option of adding external viewfinders, mics or lights to beef up the onboard offerings.
The A100F uses a 1/3-inch CMOS sensor and sports a 10x optical zoom, with a wide-angle 35mm lens, equivalent on a 35mm film camera. This isn't bad for a camcorder, and comparable to the width of compact cameras lenses.
The camera will record MPEG-4 and H.264 video at up to 60 frames per second. Footage is high definition 1920x1080i or 1400x1080i, although you don't get an HDMI cable for connecting to your HD television.