New Cards Will Be Much Cheaper, But Limited to Five-Year Lifespan

Switching to P2 is about to get a lot less expensive, thanks to a new line of low-priced P2 media introduced by Panasonic at its NAB press conference earlier this afternoon. John Baisley, the president of Panasonic Broadcast, called the P2 E Series a "new type" of P2 card, before noting that the E stands for "economy." The 64 GB P2 E-Series card certainly qualifies as economy-size, and Panasonic says it will list for just $998 when it ships in August. Compare that to the $1650 fetched by current 32 GB P2 cards. A 32 GB and a 16 GB E-Series P2 card are expected to ship next month, with $625 and $420 price tags, respectively.
Along with the price break comes one more thing to keep track of. While the newer cards are very fast – reaching transfer speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps – they are rated for a shorter lifetime of about five years of daily use. As the cards approach the end of their reliable life cycle, a warning will appear on the screen of the P2 camera or card reader. Panasonic’s P2 formatter software will also track an E-series card’s life expectancy. (The existing line of cards has been retroactively dubbed the “A Series.”)

Also announced at NAB is the new flashband compensation system to overcome problems with video captured by a MOS sensor that includes flashes of light. A free firmware upgrade to address the issue in the recently launched AG-HPX300 P2 HD camcorder is slated to be available for download sometime this summer.

Three new AVCCAM products were announced. The AG-HMC40 (August, $3195) is a compact handheld camera with 1/4-inch 3MOS imagers that weighs less than 2.2 pounds. It records video in 1080p/24, 1080p/30, 1080i/60, 720p60, 720p30 and 720p24 as well as taking 10.6-megapixel stills. An XLR audio input module is optional. The AG-HMR10 portable recorder player (later this year, $2650) has HDMI and HD-SDI out as well as an HD-SDI input, which allows for tapeless file-based recording from any system that sends out HD-SDI video. It has a built-in 3.5-inch LCD screen. Presenter Robert Harris, VP of marketing and product development, suggested it would be a good match for the new AG-HCK10 compact camera head (later this year, $2100), which has 1/4-inch 3MOS imagers and can be remote controlled via cable connection.

The company’s strategic technical liaison, Michael Bergeron, talked up the P2 partners program, which now boasts SeaChange and Rimage among its membership along with new aplications from EVS, which is supporting native DVCPRO HD on its XT[2] production server, and MTI, whose Control Dailies system supports P2, along with a number of other formats, in its new DA Head option for processing digitally acquired dailies. Panasonic also debuted the AV-HS450, a live HD/SD switcher with 16 HD SDI ins, a dual-screen multiviewing system, and 10-bt 4:2:2 HD and SD quality targeted for mid-size and mobile studio applications. It will be available later this year.

Finally, the company announced a new initiative to create all of the components for 3D production and delivery, from a two-lensed 3D camera and an “AVC Ultra” 3D recording format to the authoring and compression services required to play 3D content at home on a 3D Blu-ray Disc player and plasma screen. Panasonic’s “full HD plasma theater” will tell the story on the show floor in booth C3327.