The waterproofing is of course one of the key selling points of this camcorder. The WA10 is rated to IPX8 standard, so it can be submerged in 3m of water without mishap. It achieves this with rubber flanges and locking catches on its two flaps. One protects the battery and memory card compartment, the other micro USB and mini HDMI ports. The micro USB port, as well as providing PC data connectivity and charging, also doubles as an AV output, although only for composite video and stereo audio, not analog HD. Unlike Panasonic’s HM-TA20 pocket Internet model, the WA10 is not rated for shock or dust proofing, although the ports are unlikely to let in sand when you’re at the beach.
With its large, high-resolution CMOS the WA10 promises better image quality than most camcorders in this price range. In good lighting, the picture is vibrant and has plenty of detail. Performance in poor illumination is the most impressive, however. White balance does become a little inaccurate, erring on the yellow side in tungsten lighting, but otherwise the picture remains full of colour and detail, with very little evidence of grain, down to surprisingly low levels of light. This is particularly welcome, considering the murky conditions you’re likely to encounter when shooting underwater. Photos are also impressive for a camcorder, mostly thanks to the higher sensor resolution compared to virtually all other camcorders.
The upright camcorder format won’t appeal to everyone, and the D-pad used for accessing the main settings isn’t the most finger friendly around. The HX-WA10 is also significantly more expensive than pocket Internet camcorders, even waterproof ones. But there’s a proper optical zoom, video quality is better, and still images are far superior to any pocket Internet or similarly-priced Handycam-style model.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8