Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 3.54-Megapixel, 1/3" MOS Imaging Sensor
  • Captures 2.66-Megapixel still images
  • f/2.8 lens
  • Ultra-Compact body goes anywhere
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • WiFi
  • Waterproof to 5ft.
  • Dustproof
  • Can survive drops from 5 ft.
  • FreezeProof to 14°F
  • MicroSD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • Size and tough build make it easy to take this camera anywhere you go
  • Good video quality for a great POV experience
  • No additional housing or case needed to take it underwater (limited to 5 feet)
  • Plenty of mounts for any activities
  • WiFi allows you to view, control and copy videos and still images wirelessly
  • Optional extended battery can greatly increase battery life
  • IR lens has the ability for night vision (untested)
  • Great price at $199.99 compared to other top POV action cameras
Cons
  • Small, 2.66-Megapixel still images aren't worth capturing
  • Built-in battery does not allow you to swap out for a fresh one
  • Extended battery more than doubles the size and weight of the camera
  • No HDMI output for HD movies on an HDTV
  • Had some troubles connecting to WiFi with smartphone
  • Only waterproof down to 5 feet
Bottom Line
The Panasonic HX-A1 is an ultra-compact POV camera that records good Full 1080p HD videos and has the ability to do so anywhere you go. A full range of mounts let you use the camera in any situation on any number of items.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an affordable and incredibly compact POV camera that can survive any situation you find yourself in.

Ultra light-weight and compact, the new Panasonic HX-A1 POV action camera has been designed to be worn while you're on your great adventures, without you feeling uncomfortable the entire time. It's tough, withstanding any situation that you find yourself in. Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof and Freezeproof; it is ready for anything from a kayaking trip to a run down your favorite slope. Sporting a 3.5-Megapixel, 1/3" MOS imaging sensor; the camera was specifically designed to capture Full 1080p HD video although it does have still image capabilities as well. Built-in WiFi adds a great deal of versatility and control. Available in Black or Orange, you can choose a body that stands out or one that is not as noticeable.


With no screen and just three on-camera buttons, the WiFi becomes a very important part of the A1. It allows you to connect a smartphone to the camera to use as a wireless monitor and remote control. Once connected via the Panasonic Image App, a smartphone has the ability to start and stop recording, copy and view movies and stills and even change all of the camera's settings. A vital tool when you have the camera mounted to yourself, someone else or any other object on your adventures.


Hidden under the cap on the back of the camera you will find the High Speed USB port and MicroSD card slot. This is where you have to charge the battery, since it is built into the camera. An optional extended battery connects to the back of the camera and the USB port to greatly extend the battery life. On the back of the battery you will find another USB port maintaining the camera's functionality. While this more than doubles the camera's size and weight, it could be very useful if you are not wearing it.


Panasonic has several mounts available for you to attach the camera to just about anything. From your head to a helmet to a bike, specific mounts are available along with the included Velcro mount that can be attached to numerous things. With everything that they do have, they still come up a bit short of the options that GoPro and Sony have built up and offer for their models.


Video quality from the A1 is good for such a compact camera. It compares to that of a decent compact digicam, which is about all you can ask for from such a compact sensor. It does not compare to the quality of a ILC or dedicated video camera. It works wonderfully for its intended purpose of being a Point-of-View camera; which is supported greatly by its ability to go anywhere, including water, without the addition of a case. Our sample videos play back very smoothly on a computer or when transferred to your smartphone. Your videos are pretty easy to compose and view with your smartphone as well, via WiFi. We did have a few issues connecting our phone to the camera, not that the process is hard, but a few times things froze during the process. Unfortunately we were not able to test the night vision mode with IR due to the lack of an IR source.


While the camera does feature still image capture, the quality of the images is in no way good. You will get a far better quality image just by using the camera on your phone that what this is going to capture. We have included several still images, indoors and out for you to see on our samples page.


Powering the A1 is a built-in 3.7V, 480mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. This small battery has a maximum continuous recording time of 1 hour and 15 minutes, which will more than likely end up being under an hour in normal operating conditions, especially if you connect to a smartphone using the WiFi. Adding the extended battery can increase the camera's battery life by an additional 80 minutes. Again this is great if the camera will be mounted on something solid, but if you are planning to wear it, the extra size and weight will be very noticeable. The extra battery is available for $99.99.


Bottom Line - The Panasonic HX-A1 is an ultra-compact POV action camera, built to go anywhere you go. Without the need for a case, the A1 is tough and waterproof, keeping the camera size as small as possible, almost small enough for you to even forget that you are wearing it. A good selection of mounts allow you to take the camera anywhere to document your adventures. With a MSRP of US $199.99, this is an excellent option for someone looking for a quality action camera without spending the money for the top of the line GoPro.



Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.