Summary

Our Score

8/10

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Toshiba Gigashot A100FE

Despite its muscle in other parts of the audiovisual market, Toshiba is surprisingly not a big name in camcorders. But back in 2006 it launched the Gigashot range, taking advantage of new video formats which record to hard disk, a key technological area for Toshiba. Although the reception of the first few models was a little muted, Toshiba has continued to develop its Gigashots, and the latest in the line targets the premium high definition market - which is increasingly where all the action is. With a 100GB hard disk, the Gigashot A100FE hopes to compete alongside Sony, Panasonic and Canon. But does it have what it takes?
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With its built-in hard disk, the Toshiba isn't as light as some of the camcorders we have seen recently, such as Sony's HDR-CX6EK or Panasonic's HDC-SD9. Weighing in at around half a kilo, and measuring nearly 14cm in length, you will definitely want a camcorder bag to transport it. As with Canon's and Sony's HD camcorders, the Gigashot uses a CMOS sensor. It's a similarly sized sensor, too, offering a healthy 1/3in diagonal and 2.4-megapixels. The camera's Fujinon lens offers a reasonable 10x optical zoom, and you can add x20 and x80 digital zoom on top, if you like your images blocky.
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Like virtually every new high definition camcorder these days, the Gigashot uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression. In this case it isn't the AVCHD standard, but something called HDMV instead. This is part of the Blu-ray specification. There are three quality modes available - XQ, HQ and SP. The top XQ mode boasts 18Mbits/sec - an even higher data rate than Panasonic's HDC-SD9 and HS9, although the frames are interlaced rather than progressively scanned. HQ operates at 12Mbits/sec and SP at 9Mbits/sec.
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Even in the top quality mode, the capacious 100GB hard disk is enough for 12 hours of footage - and twice that in SP. The XQ mode records at 1,920 x 1,080, whilst the lower two use 1,440 x 1,080, but they all run at 30 frames/sec, rather than the European 25 frames/sec. This could pose compatibility problems with some European audiovisual equipment. Still images only have two options - wide and normal. These correspond to resolutions of 1,920 x 1,080 and 1,440 x 1,080 respectively.
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