Panasonic Broadcast Field Recorder = BAD?

panny-editboxWhenever there is a trade show related to our profession, we attend. Learning and evolving is essential to supporting our clients properly, not to mention staying on the leading (bleeding?) edge so our skill set can continue to produce quality content. The recent DV Expo in Pasadena provided a valuable experience. Smaller than in previous years, but with good exhibitors and a solid audience of professionals, it was a nice balance of products and users.

One of our first stops was the Panasonic stand. We are evaluating new ways to eliminate tape from our workflow, and Panasonic has multiple solutions, including P2 and AVCHD HDSC card-based workflows. That’s good stuff. But, while in the Panny booth, we were asked, “want to check out one of the coolest new products on the planet?” Who could say no? Little did we know that the next ten minutes would see us whisked into the waaaaay back machine.

The new Panasonic AJ-HPM200 is wrong in every way imaginable. First of all, it suffers from the remarkably lame Panasonic product identification process. The next time you want to order a meal, ask for the CB-2WFL (that would mean cheeseburger, cooked medium, with large fries). Why not the P2-Mobile EditStation? Or, perhaps P2-Mobile-Pro? Or… You get the point.

This is a powerful tool. 4:2:2 HD field production editing, all in a compact suitcase-style unit. Tough. Reliable. Can be used with “virtually any camera.”

But, why?

This box is $16,000. What can you buy with $16K these days? Well, let’s see: A laptop with real editing software (this box does cuts-only), connectivity to P2, AVCHD, etc. formats, cards, not to mention mobile storage and high-speed connectivity can easily be had for $5,000. That would leave $11 grand for, um… whatever!

Sure, Fox News can buy these things and stuff them into a Ford Van and call it field news production. But, that’s only if the buyer has had his spine surgically removed. Seriously, if this device was introduced in 1999, it would have set the world on fire. But today?

Panasonic is a huge company. They have some fantastic products. And I’m certain there is some news producer out there who will wet himself when he sees this. But, without a doubt, he’s over 50, doesn’t use Twitter, considers himself hip cus he uses a crackberry, and is not thinking about the big picture. He’s just checking off the boxes on a do-do list.

Well, to be fair, the thing (what’s the model number again?) looks cool.

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